Sex is something that our society is simultaneously obsessed with and embarrassed to openly talk about. One area in which this juxtaposition is particularly prevalent is in the way sexual education is taught in public schools. The Title V State Abstinence Education Grant exclusively provides funding for abstinence only education and prohibits teaching about safe sex. Numerous studies have been conducted showing that abstinence-only education is ineffective. Research from the Guttmacher institute indicates that the U.S. has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the developed world. U.S. teenagers have similar levels of sexual activity as teenagers from other developed countries, but are less likely to use contraceptives. Findings suggest that while abstinence-only education does not prevent teens from having sex, it does prevent them from practicing safe sex.
United States policy makers have a growing awareness of the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only education and have made policies that include a more comprehensive sex education. The Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), implemented by the U.S. government in 2010, supports scientifically accurate sex education programs that teach abstinence in addition to safe sex. PREP encourages programs to be inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth rather than focusing exclusively on heterosexual sex. Currently, federal funding is available for both Title V abstinence only and PREP-funded sexual education programs. As of October 2014, 32 states still received Title V funding. In order to bring about change and encourage comprehensive sex education in all states, it is important to show support for PREP-funded sex education rather than Title V, and promote open and honest conversations about the importance of safe sex.
Allison Bauman, ’15
Rose Reed-Maxfield, ’15
Sponsor: Tori Barnes-Brus