Facing a(nother) looming budget showdown, conservatives in Congress wasted no time in steering negotiations toward conservative goals, like so-called “pro-life policy” such as focusing on abortion coverage and promoting abstinence-only sex ed.
Nevermind that abstinence-only ed is a monumental failure; nevermind that abstinence educators often mislead and degrade students. It’s part of the Christian conservative social agenda, and legislators are (predictably) pursuing it.
Under a provision added in 1996 to the Social Security Act, Congress allocates $50 million annually in matching funds to states that provide abstinence-only education. Each year, some states reject that money, either because they don’t want to match the funds or because they only want to teach comprehensive sex ed. The leftover money has, until now, gone back to the U.S. Treasury to be spent on other things.
Conservatives propose changing that, however, to allow states that do not implement comprehensive sex education to receive the unclaimed funds — usually between twelve and fifteen million dollars a year. The conditions? States have to implement the entire abstinence education standards, which includes stipulations that a program must, for instance
[h]ave as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;
Teach that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.
Now, to be clear, we’re not talking about ensuring that information about abstinence is included with other medically accurate information; this money is available only for those programs where abstinence is all young people learn. This is $50 million we set aside each year to provide incomplete sex education; and conservatives in Congress want to ensure that every penny goes toward that worthy goal this year.
Which is terrible sex ed, but, you know, it apparently makes Jesus happy.
The bill passed through the House 219-206 last night.