Wisconsin Senator Bill Proxmire made a name for himself in part due to his Golden Fleece Award. When the federal government wasted taxpayer funds on a bogus project he would red flag it for national attention. If Proxmire were alive and giving out the dubious honor yet today he would ‘award’ the sexual abstinence program pushed by the Bush Administration on behalf of religious conservatives. The latest news on trying to keep kids chaste shows that both the program does not work, and that taxpayers are being fleeced.
Mathematica Policy Research released their findings last week showing that the $176 million dollars that federal government authorizes annually does not work. Students who had attended sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to engage in sexual activity a few years later, have their first sexual experience, and have as many sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. Obviously the abstinence programs have a fatal glitch.
The fact that sex education is being used as a political tool to assuage a certain important demographic group within the Republican Party needs to be made clear as Congress considers reauthorizing the funding this year. The fact that a totally honest and balanced approach about sex education needs to be offered to our youth is absolutely undeniable. Something is broken when the city of Milwaukee has the second highest pregnancy rate of the nations 50 largest cities. Pretending that kids do not have sex, or will not have sex is naive. Censoring vital information about contraceptives, as the abstinence programs do is counter productive, and could be deadly.
There is just no scientific evidence that the federal abstinence programs work, and no justification for the amount of taxpayer dollars that is being wasted each year. A politically feel good approach to teaching our youth about sex is wrong for the nation. No one is doubting the need to stem the problem of teenage pregnancy rates, or help young people better understand their sexual options. Teaching safe sexual practices, the ability to reason with feelings, communicating more effectively. all would be better reasoned components of a comprehensive approach to sex education than what the Bush Administration has offered. As a nation we should not be nervous or reticent about the topic. Pretending that the nation’s youth are not having sex, or thinking about it 24/7 may make for good speeches at a political fundraiser but makes no sense in the real world where the kids live.