What’s at Stake for Sex Education in the 2016 Election?
By Avatara Smith-Carrington | Feb. 5, 2016, 12:17 p.m.
Every young person in this country deserves accurate information and resources about sex, sexuality, and relationships, so that they can keep themselves safe and healthy. But whether or not young people get the sex education they need hinges on whether the country elects champions of evidence-based approaches — or whether politicians who push ineffective, abstinence-only programs end up in charge.
This election, young people’s access to sex education is at risk. Here’s what’s at stake for sex education in America in 2016.
Where the Nation Stands on Sex Education, Unintended Pregnancy & STIs
Sex education and birth control have helped bring U.S. teen pregnancy rates to a historic 40-year low. However, access to education and services are far from universal in our country — so it’s no surprise that the United States has the highest rate of unintended teen pregnancy of all developed countries and sexually active teens have the highest rate of unintended pregnancy of all age groups.
Let’s restate the obvious: Sex education works, and Americans support it.
About 615,000 U.S. teenagers are at risk of becoming pregnant this year, and half of the estimated 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year are diagnosed among young people ages 15-24.
That’s where the nation stands in terms of need. When it comes to support, there’s a lot: The vast majority of Americans support comprehensive sex education. In fact:
More than 90% of parents support sex education that covers a wide range of topics in both high school and middle school. In fact, 93% of parents support having sex education taught in middle school, and 96% of parents support having sex education in high school.
Moreover, 83% of Americans support the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which helps fund evidence-based, medically accurate, and age-appropriate programs aimed at reducing teen pregnancy.
Sex education works and is widely supported. It’s vital that we continue to invest in sex education and services that keep young people healthy and safe.
Attacks on Sex Education
Sex education has measurable results for reducing unintended pregnancy and STI rates. Despite this, irresponsible members of Congress have funneled millions of taxpayer dollars a year to abstinence-only programs, which are proven to be ineffective at delaying sexual behavior and lowering pregnancy and STI rates. Good sex education is essential to adolescents’ overall health and well-being.
The fact that young people in so many states are being deprived of information critical to their sexual health is unacceptable.
Let’s restate the obvious: Sex education works, and Americans support it. Yet, backward politicians in Congress — as well as Republican contenders for president — continue to fight facts. How? Just consider these two examples:
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush once set aside roughly $10 million to fund abstinence-only programs, and he said, “It's pretty clear that sex education programs where you teach kids how to have sex don't work."
John Kasich signed a budget in 2011 that requires the Ohio Department of Health to annually apply for federal funds for abstinence-only programs.
The Need to Elect Leaders Who Support Sex Education
Here’s the thing you need to know: Having a supportive president has helped ensure that members of Congress who oppose sex education — including Senators Cruz and Rubio — have not gotten their way. President Obama successfully launched the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program in 2010 with funding of $110 million a year. However, out-of-touch politicians have repeatedly tried to cut its funding — most recently this summer, when the Senate tried to reduce funding to $20 million (a cut of more than 80%).
It’s never been more clear why we need leaders in the White House, in Congress, and in the states who are committed to expanding access to quality sex education. This election, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is fighting to get out the vote for candidates who will work toward a vision of an America where all young people — and adults — have access to quality sex education.
Join the Fight
We can't let these attacks on reproductive care keep happening. Now more than ever is the time to fight back. Now is the time to make sure everybody gets the health care access they deserve. Now is the time to join the I Vote Planned Parenthood Action campaign!
Tags: Sex Ed, Election 2016