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What's Next For Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Programs?

What's Next For Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Programs?

When Obama decided not to renew the Title V grant program that funds abstinence-only sex education programs in his 2010 budget, places like McLennan County in Texas found their coffers, already depleted when their $800,000 grant ran out in 2007, dwindle from $1 million to zero.

Since 1997, $1.9 billion in government funding ($1.5 billion of it federal money) has gone to abstinence-only education, turning it into an industry unto itself. Although the Senate Finance Committee voted to restore the funding 12-11 last month, the measure needs to pass the full Congress, which is unlikely. At this point, it looks like private donors will have to cough up the funding if these programs want to survive.

Abstinence ed flourished in the late '90s and early 2000s and federal funding doubled from $80 million in 2001 to $200 million during the Bush years in spite of research that showed sexual behavior didn't change among those who had received the education.

So what's the future of abstinence-only education? Its advocates like Director Tracy Cousins of the McLennan County Collaborative Abstinence Program (MCCAP) in Texas considered tweaking their programs in order to get some funding. But they decided in the end that showing students, for example, how to put a condom on compromised their message of abstinence only. "We believe," says Tracy Cousins,"the best approach [for students] is they should not engage in sexual activity."

Image Source: Getty
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