This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

How Obama's healthcare reform boosted abstinence-only sex education

Congressional haggling over Obamacare meant conservatives won funding for faith-based sex education curriculums in schools


Holding hands: according to Tennessee legislators, a 'gateway sexual behavior'. Photograph: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

When it comes to abstinence, it seems we just can't get enough. Back in the free-for-all days of the Bush administration, an astounding $1.5bn federal dollars was invested in the project of telling unmarried teenagers that the only thing they needed to know about sex was to not have any. In 2009, the Obama administration shifted to an evidence-based approach to sex and health education, and as a result, redirected federal efforts toward programs with better records in bringing down teen pregnancy rates, reducing sexually transmitted diseases, and improving the health literacy of students.

But the purity party is on again. One of the less well-known provisions of the Affordable Care Act, forced in by conservative lawmakers, calls for a return of abstinence-only sex education programs in public secondary education. To be fair, it wasn't just the naysayers who gained from healthcare reform; the Affordable Care Act also sets aside funds for sex and health education programs that have been proven to work. But conservatives managed to shoehorn an extra $50m per year over five years for abstinence-only programs.

At the same time, a number of states – Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin among them – are launching aggressive legislative efforts to promote abstinence-only education. In Tennessee, for instance, a bill that passed the house and senate in April 2012 specifies that teachers must "exclusively and emphatically" endorse abstinence, or face a $500 fine. The bill stipulates that contraceptives may be discussed only as an inferior means of preventing pregnancy and disease. The bill also allows parents to sue public school teachers and staff for allowing students to engage in what is bizarrely termed "gateway sexual behavior" – such as holding hands or hugging.

Read more

TAGGED: POLITICS


RELATED CONTENT

Rep. Todd Akin is wrong about rape and...

Sarah Kliff - The Washington Post Comments

Rep. Todd Akin is wrong about rape and pregnancy, but he’s not alone

Analysis: Why it’s irrational to risk...

Peter Singer - The Scotsman Comments

Analysis: Why it’s irrational to risk women’s lives for the sake of the unborn

Pussy Riot's closing statement

Cory Doctorow - BoingBoing Comments

Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich has given a tremendous closing statement, which is a masterful summary of Russian oligarchy

How would Jesus vote?

Paula Kirby - The Washington Post Comments

How would Jesus vote?

Religion’s fair game if it motivates...

Lawrence Martin - The Globe and Mail Comments

The evangelical movement is not a typical religion when it comes to politics

Is America a Christian Nation? or One...

Sean Faircloth - RichardDawkins.net Comments

s America a Christian Nation? or One Nation Under the Constitution? by Sean Faircloth

MORE

MORE BY KATHERINE STEWART

Loretta Preska's judicial crusade to...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments

US Catholic bishops' abuse of...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments


The US Conference of Catholic Bishops in session in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier this month. Photograph: Tami Chappell/Reuters

[Update] How Christian fundamentalists...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian 36 Comments

How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren

Tennessee Goes Monkey Again

Katherine Stewart - RichardDawkins.net 44 Comments

Just Say Yes…To Sexist Stereotyping?

Katherine Stewart - Ms. blog 36 Comments

Just Say Yes…To Sexist Stereotyping?

Australia's blurred separation between...

Katherine Stewart - The Guardian 30 Comments

Australia's blurred separation between church and state
Constitutional ambiguity has allowed religion an excessive influence in schools, and Australia is not alone in this respect

MORE

Comments

Please Login to RDFRS to Comment

Sign in to RDF

blog comments powered by Disqus