Friday, April 13, 2007

$176 million a year not enough to stamp out f*cking

Here's one that'll knock you over with a feather. A study commissioned by Congress has shown that abstinence-only sex education programs, on which our government currently spends $176 million of our tax dollars annually, have quite literally no effect at all on teens' sexual behavior.

The only thing defenders of the programs can say in their defense — apart from what they're currently saying, which is that the failure of the abstinence message is that is just isn't being repeated enough, which reminds me of the hilarious line from Black Adder Goes Forth: "By doing exactly what we've done the last 18 times, the Germans will be caught totally off guard!" — is that this new study also shows no effect on contraceptive use either. (It had been one assumption of abstinence-program critics that kids who fall off the wagon would be less informed and less likely to use condoms.)

Naturally, anyone who's been paying attention will know exactly why abstinence programs don't work. They're all part of the Religious Right's war on science. They have nothing to do with facts about sexual behavior, STD's, or any other factor that can be supported with evidence. They're about foisting Christian "morality" on students without regard to reproducible results. They're about theocratic social engineering, not education. Their proponents are the same folks who deny evolution, global warming, and increasingly, other ideologically touchy subjects like the Holocaust.

Way back during the Reagan administration, Austin's Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Ben Sergeant did a brilliant panel. A school principal is shown informing a teacher, "All right, we've removed everything that could possibly offend any religious group! So, Mrs. Smith, get in there and teach!" And the teacher is standing, gagged, in a classroom stripped of pictures, textbooks, maps, pencils, even desks. It was on point then and distressingly so 20 years later.

This is another of the evils of politicized religion. Rather than contribute anything meaningful to learning, these are people who want to play politics with our children's educations — and, increasingly, their lives.


  1. I'm going to be talking about this on Sunday's show, but I think you may have something wrong. (I'll double-check tonight)

    If I'm right, this study isn't about abstinence-only education, it's about general programs designed to encourage abstinence; pledges, etc.

    Getting kids to pledge to be abstinent is a miserable failure, but if they've been properly educated it doesn't have to be a dangerous failure.

    Abstinence-only education is a slightly different beast. Tell kids not to have sex and give them no other information about safe, responsible sex. It's also a miserable failure and it's fucking deadly.

  2. Check this article. It says the number is actually around $1,000,000,000!

  3. Well, it says "more than" $1 billion since 1998, so, as this is 2007, if the government has been spending $176M a year all that time, the actual total comes to just under $1.6B!

  4. $1.6 Billion!?

    That'd buy a lot of condoms!

  5. This report doesn't surprise me at ALL! I taught (non-abstinence-based) sex ed for 8 years and can't remember the number of kids whose parents had taken them out of the class, or who thought they "didn't need" it, only to see them struggle with unwanted pregnancies and worse, STD's, after they struggled with their hormones and LOST!


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