Common sense ain't all that common

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (TRANSLATION: the H.O.R. click that decides how much money is spent on non-military shit that actually benefits the American population) voted yesterday to continue funding the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program, even though plenty of recent research has proved it to be counter-productive. Apparently, ideology is much more important than the welfare of America’s adolescents!

The CBAE program, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, distributes tax dollars directly to public & private organizations that develop and implement sex education programs that focus solely on abstinence (discussion of sexual activity is not allowed within these programs & is reason to have funding revoked). These programs (according to the government site on the subject) teach that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects; that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society; and that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity. Most adults can see the problems with this curriculum quite clearly, but apparently Congress cannot. They still set aside millions each year to fund programs that tell our children that having sex with anyone but your spouse will fuck up your head, your life, your body, your parents, and society itself. But we can’t get universal health care…

Even if common sense isn’t enough to convince a Representative on the Appropriations Subcommittee that CBAE is a waste of public funds, one would think that all the research on the subject might sway their opinions on the matter. For example:

  • Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. released their study of abstinence-only policies in early 2007. The 164-page report concluded that such programs were ineffective in preventing teen sexual activity. The programs didn’t have an impact on when teens “got down to business” or how many partners they hooked up with.
  • The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released their study in late 2007 that also concluded that abstinence-only programs had no effect on the sexual behavior of teens. One of the researchers even suggested that comprehensive sex ed arms adolescents with information that allows them to be more confident in their ability to say ‘no’ to unwanted sexual behavior.
  • 17 States have refused to accept CBAE funding because the program is ineffective. This should be a pretty clear message to Congress that CBAE ain't cool. Wouldn’t you think?

The clearest diss on the Appropriations Subcommittee decision was articulated by the director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, Caroline Fredrickson:

"It’s hard to imagine a good reason why, in these tight economic times, Congress would intentionally flush taxpayer dollars down the drain by spending them on disproven, ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. We are floored that they continue to ignore study after study, and the consensus of the pubic health community, all concluding that these programs censor vital health care information, teach gender stereotypes, discriminate against lesbian and gay teens, and in some cases promote religion in the classroom in violation of the Constitution."

That's what I'm saying.

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