Yesterday we all had a good chortle about teen pregnancy and STD rates climbing during the Bush-administration’s eight years of abstinence-only sex ed. But then we thought: well, now this is our guy’s problem. So, what is the Obama administration doing about sex ed in America?
For once, the news is genuinely encouraging.
The Obama budget, released in May and currently being discussed in various Congressional committees, eliminates funding for abstinence-only programs, and requests $178 million dollars in new funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs — 75% to programs “proven through rigorous evaluation to delay sexual activity, increase contraceptive use (without increasing sexual activity), or reduce teenage pregnancy”, and 25% to “innovative” new programs.
Progressive sex-ed advocates do caution that the softly value-neutral “proven effective” standard still allows for the backdoor funding or continuation of abstinence programs, and note also that the language of the request focuses on “pregnancy prevention” rather than sexual health. This is, however, a pragmatically presented step towards reorienting sex ed in America along empirical lines, which can only result in more progressive policies.
David Obey, the Democratic Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, had been seen as a possible roadblock for a comprehensive shift in sex-ed priorities, but his committee seems to have gotten in line with the Obama budget, to the chagrin of the moral minority.
The one nice thing about our nation’s failing economy/healthcare system/environment/military is that there isn’t as much time for people to get wound up waging culture wars.