Another Bad Idea: Appointing an Abstinence-only Zealot to Manage the Nation’s Sex Ed Programs

“Last week, President Donald Trump appointed a longstanding advocate of abstinence sex education to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),
and leftwing groups are furious.”

You’ve got that right, Breitbart. Furious is how anyone with a brain capable of critical thinking feels about this appointment.

Valerie Huber was co-founder and president/CEO of Ascend, an abstinence-only organization, and before that she managed Ohio’s abstinence-only program. Now, by some sick political twist, she’ll be chief of staff to the assistant secretary for health—the person who supervises the Office of Adolescent Health, which is responsible for the federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

In other words, a proponent of sex-shaming teens and sending them out into the world without the information they need to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy, STIs, and sexual coercion is going to have a major role in the sex education American kids and teens receive.

According to the Ascend website, “We don’t intend to give up. Not on youth. And not on their access to the skills, information and encouragement to avoid all sexual activity, hopefully until they marry.”

Too bad hardly anyone waits until marriage to become sexually active.

According to the National Survey of Family Growth, 89 percent of women ages 15-44 who have ever been married had premarital sex. The corresponding figure for men is 92 percent. And since some people never marry (the Pew Research Center estimates that 25 percent of today’s young adults won’t be married by the time they’re in their mid-40s to mid-50s), the percentage of all women and men who have sex either before marriage or without ever having been married is certainly higher.

The biggest problem with abstinence-only sex education programs—outside of the hetero-normative/traditional marriage assumptions they make about all students—is that they are counterproductive. According to a peer-reviewed paper published in 2011, “The more strongly abstinence is emphasized in state laws and policies, the higher the average teenage pregnancy and birth rate.”

Because, duh. When teens don’t learn about pregnancy prevention outside of “Don’t have sex. ’Cause you will get pregnant. And die,” they don’t use protection when they do have sex.

Sex education class should be a place where students learn about their changing bodies, how to have healthy relationships, and how to maintain their health and well being—regardless of their gender expression, sexual orientation, or decisions about their own sexual activity. Liberals are furious about the appointment of Valerie Huber because it means American kids will learn just the opposite.

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