Let’s Not Talk About Sex

Lindsay Beyerstein in In These Times:

The House Appropriations Committee subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education shocked many progressives in early June when it approved a $32 million increase for the discredited Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program. The extra money seems particularly strange, since congressional Democrats announced last month that they would allow a major source of abstinence-only funding to expire at the end of June.

In April, a congressionally mandated report confirmed that current federally funded abstinence programs are ineffective. The multi-year study conducted by Mathematica Research examined youths who participated in abstinence-only education programs funded under Title V of the Welfare Reform Act. The authors concluded that kids who participated were no more likely to abstain from sex until marriage and no less sexually active than the control group that got no abstinence training.

In the wake of the study, congressional Democrats pulled the plug on abstinence funding through Title V. But it makes little sense to squelch Title V while boosting CBAE because the two programs share the same curriculum guidelines. If Title V is a waste of money, so is CBAE.