One the last things Barack Obama did before leaving office was to put forward a 2017 budget proposal that removed a $10 million annual grant for “abstinence-only” sexual education classes in public schools.
As DeadState pointed out in 2016, “abstinence only” is a sex ed program that refuses to teach about condoms or other forms of birth control, instead encouraging teens to abstain from intercourse and other forms of sexual activity. The curriculum, which has been proven to be ineffective, is favored by many Christian sects and is supported by many Republican lawmakers and the religious right.
The program often skips information about anatomy, puberty, sexual health and orientation. In addition, it’s been theorized that the courses can create a hostile environment for same-sex couples, couples that have premarital sex, or other people who don’t fit in with the image of sexuality described in the class.
Now, President Trump is taking funds from programs designed to reduced teen pregnancies and diverting it back to abstinence programs. According to The Hill, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this Friday that funds for Obama’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, (TPPP) would now be pointed towards abstinence education for teens instead of the comprehensive sex ed that Obama championed.
“Projects will clearly communicate that teen sex is a risk behavior for both the physical consequences of pregnancy and sexual transmitted infections; as well as sociological, economic and other related risks,” the funding announcement reads. “Both risk avoidance and risk reduction approaches can and should include skills associated with helping youth delay sex as well as skills to help those youth already engaged in sexual risk to return toward risk-free choices in the future.”
Trump has a strong base of support from evangelicals, and various megachurch pastors have wiggled their way into his advisory circle. This latest move is a nod to his evangelical base.
In a 2017 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers said that abstinence education often fails to keep teens from having sex.
Promoting abstinence only “violates medical ethics and harms young people,” researcher Laura Lindberg said.
“We fail our young people when we don’t provide them with complete and medically accurate information.”