Policy Fact Sheets
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act on Feburary 14, 2013. This legislation would provide young people with the comprehensive sexuality education they need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions in order to become sexually healthy adults and have healthy relationships.
In the United States, schools have direct contact with more than 56 million students for at least six hours a day during 13 key years of their social, physical, and intellectual development. CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) is a unique source of support for HIV/STD-prevention and sex education efforts in our nation’s schools. DASH provides funding and technical assistance to HIV/STD prevention programs in 49 states, the District of Columbia, 16 large urban school districts, six territories, and one tribal government.
Fact Sheet: The President's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative -- Providing Young People the Information and Skills They Need
The President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), first funded in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 at $110 million, provides competitive contracts and grants to public and private entities. The Initiative funds medically accurate and age-appropriate programs that reduce teen pregnancy and associated risk behaviors and covers costs associated with administering and evaluating the program.
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-9) introduced the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act, which would strike Title V, Section 510 of the Social Security Act from statute, thereby ending the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs once and for all. It would transfer funding to the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) state-grant program.
In Brief: Federal Funding Streams for Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Sex Education, and Abstinence-Only Programs
The federal government currently provides $180 million in funding for more comprehensive approaches to sex education through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, which provides grants to public and private entities for medically accurate and age-appropriate teen pregnancy prevention and positive youth development programs, and the Personal Responsibility Education Program, which provides young people with medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education in order to help them reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs. There also exists $50 million in mandatory funding for the Title V abstinence-only program, which provides grants to states for abstinence-only programs and mentoring, counseling, and adult supervision programs that promote abstinence only.
With the enactment of health care reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), on March 23, 2010, the federal government created the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), the first-ever, dedicated funding stream for comprehensive sexuality education. However, the legislation also reauthorized the failed Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program, which originally expired on June 30, 2009. States now may choose to apply for comprehensive sexuality education funds, abstinence-only funds, or both.
In Brief: President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative
In December 2010, the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010, which included $114.5 million for the President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. This marked a notable shift in how the United States addresses sex education and the prevention of unintended pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The new teen pregnancy prevention initiative will be administered by the newly established Office of Adolescent Health within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Personal Responsibility Education Program, created through the recently passed Health Care Reform legislation, will provide states with grants for comprehensive sex education that provides young people with complete, medically accurate, and age-appropriate sex education that helps them reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Programs would also address the life skills necessary so young people can make responsible decisions and lead safe and healthy lives.
The federal government should not continue funding for the ineffective Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program but should instead listen to the overwhelming evidence that this massive federal expenditure has failed completely to achieve its stated goals.
Comprehensive sex education addresses the root issues that help teens make responsible decisions to keep them safe and healthy and there is strong evidence showing the effectiveness of these programs.
Over the past 25 years, Congress has spent over $1.5 billion on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, yet no study in a professional peer-reviewed journal has found these programs to be broadly effective. Scientific evidence simply does not support an abstinence-only-until-marriage approach.
Organizations that support abstinence-only-until-marriage programs portray sexuality education as a controversial issue. Yet, all evidence suggests that comprehensive sexuality education is a mainstream American value. A vast majority of Americans support comprehensive sexuality education—medically accurate, age-appropriate education that includes information about both abstinence and contraception—and believe young people should be given information about how to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
If you support comprehensive sexuality education—medically accurate, age-appropriate education that includes information about abstinence and contraception—then you are in good company.
Included are examples of what young people are taught in some of the most commonly used abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula. Prior to Fiscal Year 2010, the federal government had spent over one billion dollars on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. All of the examples come from curricula that were used in programs previously supported by federal funds.
Three percent of high school students describe themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and over five percent report they are either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or have had sexual experiences with individuals of the same sex. As a minority population in schools across the country, LGBTQ youth commonly experience high rates of discrimination and harassment, yet are often not protected under school policy. And even though most parents favor teaching about sexual orientation in schools, most sexuality education programs do not cover this topic and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs merely further negative sentiment toward these students.
Educating youth about emergency contraception (EC) through comprehensive sexuality education programs is critical to reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy. However, federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs censor vital information about the effectiveness of contraception, including EC. Both emergency contraception and comprehensive sexuality education are proven to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy.
Virginity pledges—promises that young people make to remain abstinent until marriage—are becoming increasingly popular in schools and communities across the country. Virginity pledges are the cornerstone of most abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Taking a virginity pledge is often times an indication that a young person has participated in some type of abstinence-only-until-marriage program.