Since 1982, the federal government has spent over $2 billion on abstinence-only-until-marriage "sex education" programs. These programs came to a brief halt in 2010, but were reinstated in recent years, with funding for these programs increasing threefold from 2015 to 2017. And now, abstinence-only-until-marriage advocates have rebranded their programs as “sexual risk avoidance” (SRA) programs.
There are several problems with the abstinence-only-until-marriage, or SRA, approach. First, research shows that they don’t work. The fact is, sex education that includes both abstinence and birth control have a better track record of helping young people wait to have sex until they’re ready.
Even more importantly, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs withhold critical, sometimes life-saving information, while shaming young people for who they are, how they feel, or what their experiences have been. Practicing abstinence and learing how to say no to sex are important parts of any good sex education program, but they’re not the only parts.
We have to fight against abstinence-only-until-marriage/SRA programs and advocate for sex education laws and funding that support the full range of sex education topics that young people need and deserve.