1996: the year the Clinton administration first signed away millions to fund abstinence-only programs.
2007: the year legislators finally introduced a bill that could counter a lot of the misinformation brought about by 11 years of medically inaccurate, conservative education.
This bill is called the REAL Act, and its goal is: "To provide for the reduction of adolescent pregnancy, HIV rates, and other sexually transmitted diseases, and for other purposes."
As Advocates for Youth reports, the REAL Act would fund programs with important characteristics, including:
- Being age-appropriate and medically accurate;
- Not teaching or promoting religion;
- Teaching that abstinence is the only certain way to avoid pregnancy or sexual transmission of diseases;
- Stressing the value of abstinence while not ignoring young people who have had or are having sex;
- Providing accurate information about the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier methods as a means to prevent pregnancy;
- Providing information about the health benefits of condoms and other barrier methods as a means to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV;
- Encouraging family communication about sexuality;
- Teaching skills for making responsible decisions about sex, including how to avoid unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances and how not to make unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances; and
- Teaching that alcohol and drug use can affect the ability to make responsible decision’s
So why are we still getting so much abstinence-only education?
Basically because even though the bill was introduced in the house over a year ago, it is still sitting in committee, waiting to be voted on. If it doesn’t get voted on by the next election, it will die and need to be reintroduced by the next congress. But even if it does pass in the house, it won’t necessarily pass in the senate.
That being said, even if it does die, it might not mean the end of the act. If November sees a real political change in Washington, maybe having something like the REAL bill won’t seem so unrealistic.
Do you think that real sex ed has a chance?