obama’s in! so what does that mean for sex ed?

Ten years ago, I packed my bags, said goodbye to my Canadian homeland and moved to New York City. It was the end of the Clinton era and, like many people around the country, I was more caught up in the President’s affair with an intern named Monica Lewinsky than I was in his recent signing of the Welfare Reforms Act and how it would affect sex education.

I soon learned that, in addition to cutting thousands of people off of public assistance, the Welfare Reforms Act also set aside money for something no one had heard of at the time: abstinence-only education.

When Bush was in office a few years later, we began hearing a lot more about this form of "sex ed."  Soon it became clear that Clinton had laid the groundwork for some pretty scary stuff.

Throughout his almost eight years in office, Bush funneled over a billion dollars into abstinence-only education. As a lot of you may know firsthand from school, this consists of government funded programs designed to teach teens that the only acceptable form of sex is that which happens between a married man and woman. Keeping in line with this philosophy, programs are barred from discussing things like condoms, birth control and sexual orientation.

Initially, these program got a lot of support. In fact, in 1998–the first year funding was offered–California was the only state to decline the money. What a contrast to today, when almost half of the states have rejected it!

A big reason for the massive change of heart is that it has become increasingly obvious that the sex ed policies of our past two presidents have left teens in a bad place. How bad is it? Here are some pretty bleak facts to consider:

  • After a 15 year decline, teen pregnancy rose for the first time in 2006.
  • Young people between the ages of 13 and 24 are now the fastest growing group to contract HIV.
  • Last year, the CDC reported that one in four teenage girls have an STD.

Luckily, our next president, Barack Obama, has promised to right some of these wrongs! He has pledged support for age-appropriate comprehensive sex education and vows to increase federal funding for science-based HIV prevention programs. Additionally, Obama took on teen pregnancy by introducing the Communities of Color Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2007, which was designed to help prevent teen pregnancies in minority communities. He also plans to improve access to health insurance with a focus on increasing coverage for children and teens.

These are all real ways to improve teens’ reproductive health and are long overdue in the oval office.  Here’s to hoping that teens have finally found a president who is looking out for them, and not just one who is parroting the party line when he claims to care about not leaving children behind.

Posted in: Health, Sex & Relationships, The State of Sex Ed
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  • Lissie Jane

    I agree with most of you, that sex ed is a good thing to learn. If you know about it then you know th risks, the solutions, the problems, the way to fix things, how and where to get help etc etc. We need it, if we dodnt, then well tell me, where are you going to learn it from! Its not as though many or any people would go up to their mumand be like 'Hey mum, me and Him had sex, it was this and that and now i think this…'
    Well i know i wouldnt anyways. so tell me really whats wrong with it…
    If peoples cultures and religions dont allow or beleave in it then let those peoples leave the room, we do at our school.
    So in that case, GO SEX ED! AND GO OBAMA!

  • makenzie

    emmmm yea ok….just whatever, its stupid we are like "fighting" sort of…so nvm. I should pay more attention to what im writing. I just didnt think nobody cared that much. So im sorry…and your right I did make a lot of mistakes and my arguement wasn't as effective as it could have been!
    P.S thnx for the criticism,
    I really need to learn to just take it.

  • Mariah

    mackenzie, I wasnt commenting on your oppinion, even though I dissagree with you. My point was simply that your argument was less effective because of all of the errors. look around. do you see anyone else on this post typing like "a 9" ?

  • Leah

    The absitinence only program sucked it was so annoying. People will have sex no matter what. What they should be doing is handing out condoms and birth control!

  • makenzie

    ha! mariah its the internet no one uses grammer and i think ur the one soundin like a 9 because honestly no one points out grammer n also theres no reason for you to be like this cause i was juss voicing my opinion and if you cant handle it then your the one being immature.

  • Gina

    I believe that the announcement of adding sex ed was meant for the school that did not yet have it. I completely, 100% agree that elementary school students do not need to be taught about the actual act of sex, which is why the curriculum would be made to be age appropriate.
    In addition to everything else I've said, I do think that abstinence should be taught, but not as the only option. As has been stated before, it doesn't work. My school teaches abstinence as the number one form of birth control, but also carefully details the pros and cons of other forms of birth control and STD/STI protection and how to use them.
    There was one pregnancy in my school, last year, and it was on purpose. The girl was getting married right out of high school and actually wanted a child. (Whether or not you agree with the decision, it must be understood that it was not for lack of protection that she got pregnant.)
    This is most likely the best route for compromise we can get. Abstinence first, but also other options. Because what Mariah says is true. Teens are going to do what they want regardless of what they learn in school, so they should be as well informed as possible of the possible consequences of their decision. While it is drilled into our minds that abstinence is the only 100% way to avoid pregnancy and STDs (to the point where we can recite the line on cue), we are also taught about our other options.
    I also agree with Mariah that it cannot be assumed that everyone believes in abstinence. As she said, not everyone follows a religion, such as Christianity, that enforces that rule. Some Christians may not even follow their religion that closely or abide by all the laws in the Bible. It's just how it is. Regardless of belief, church and state are meant to be separate, and the reliance on abstinence to keep teens from getting pregnant or STDs is strongly based on religious beliefs.
    Either way, what's happening now is obviously not working. We need change. Obviously. And I believe Obama is the man with the plan to do just that. :]

  • Allison

    I have gone to both a school with real sex-ed and abstinence only "sex-ed". I have seen with my own eyes that the school with abstinence only "sex-ed" (which was in the same suburban setting with the a less percent of minorities, and less drugs) had more pregnant teens in my high school alone. My freshman year, there were 4 pregnant girls, one of which was having her second baby, and another, a friend of mine, who was on her 3rd pregnancy (the first two were a miss carriage). This doesn

  • Mariah

    Ok, Gina you are absolutely correct. And Mackenzie, first of all, if you want to be taken seriously try commenting with proper spelling and grammar. Seriously. You sound like you are 9.
    Moving on, I am so happy for all of you down south (I'm Canadian) for electing Obama. Your election was a bigger deal here then our own was. I firmly disagree with Abstinence only sex ed. That type of education is faith based, and while I realize that there are allot of God centred religious people to whom abstinence is considered a value, not everyone in America is Christian! Abstinence only education belongs in a Theocracy, not a Democracy.
    Without proper sex education, the results could be catastrophic. Kids will not stop having sex. By having safe options presented alongside abstinence, people can make informed decisions regarding their own bodies. Say someone got raped? How would they know about the morning after pill? I am not a virgin, and because of sex ed, I was able to be responsible about my decision and stay safe. I would have made the choice to have sex with or without the information I was able to receive through my school. Sex can be a wonderful (and fun) way off connecting with your partner, and expressing your love, however it is a personal choice. Knowledge is power. Take responsibility for yourselves and make the choice that is right for you. Just because you believe in abstinence doesn

  • makenzie

    but honestly dont they do that now in my schools they do so i dont think obamas really doing any thing b/c i guess its ur principles fault for not having it. in minnesota thats what they teach is safe touch things so idk so when they siad to teach sex ed it was like a big shocker to us cause we allready have that safe touch stuff in like 1st grade so i thought they were going to lke the next level w/ sex. and who no's maybe thats what he ment or didnt either way i hope it works out for the good!! :]