For decades, proponents of “abstinence-only” sex education have claimed it’s an effective way to get teens to forgo sex until marriage in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases, but studies have shown that not to be the case — and in some cases, teens who’ve undergone the program have even shown an increased rate of pregnancies and births.
Now, the state of Colorado is looking to push the controversial sex-ed program out with a bill that’s making its way through the state legislature.
Earlier this week, the Colorado state House overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill that would require schools to teach a comprehensive sex-ed program that covers a variety of options other than abstinence, The Hill reports. If passed, the new law would ban all public schools from teaching abstinence-only.
The bill, which was approved in a 39-23 vote this last Tuesday, will provide $1 million in annual funds for schools to teach comprehensive sex ed. It will now head to the state Senate for a final vote.
“We want to make sure kids understand that there are different relationship models beside just heterosexual — that there are people who are lesbian, gay and bisexual,” state Rep. Susan Lontine (D) told 9News.
Abstinence-only has made comeback under President Trump, which has been a setback for the resources poured into comprehensive sex education by the Obama administration. Opponents of abstinence-only say the practice is ideologically based (usually promoted by conservative Christian groups) and already failed when it was implemented by the previous Bush administration.
“We know from a body of evidence that abstinence-only programs don’t provide a full range of medically accurate and non-stigmatized education around contraception use,” Jesse Boyer of the Guttmacher Institute said speaking to The Hill last year.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), abstinence-only programs are “ineffective and may cause harm” and demonstrate “no differences in sexual abstinence or condom use between abstinence-only program group and control group.”
“One significant finding was concerning: youth in the program group were significantly less likely to report that condoms were effective in preventing HIV and other STIs,” NCBI stated last year. “This finding is consistent with the emphasis in AOE curricula on teaching about the failure rates for condoms, as required by federal program guidance.”
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