A new report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy provides further evidence that abstinence only programs have done nothing to reduce teen sex and can be downright harmful to LGBT youth.
At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners" among teenagers, the newest study, by the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy concluded.
The study found that while abstinence-only efforts appear to have little positive impact, more comprehensive sex education programs were having "positive outcomes" including teenagers "delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use.
Despite mounting evidence from federal, state, local and independent sources that abstinence only programs are ineffective President Bush and congressional Republicans continue to push funding for the programs which since 1996 have received more than half a billion dollars in funding. A spending bill before Congress for the Department of Health and Human Services would provide $141 million in assistance for community-based, abstinence-only sex education programs.
While the programs have been proven ineffective in reducing pregnancy among heterosexual teens, the results for LGBT youth are even worse. The programs emphasis on no sex until marriage does nothing for gay kids when same-sex couples are prevented from marrying in 49 of the 50 states. The abstinence until marriage rhetoric sends the message to LGBT youth that they are less worthy of respect and that their lives are less worthy of protection, that homosex is something that is something nasty that should not be discussed in polite company and that the proper context for sex is only within the context of marriage.
This does considerable harm to LGBT youth by denying them access to life saving information than can help to prepare them for the complexities of exploring their sexuality. In light of the fact that nearly half of new HIV infections are being reported in young people ages 15-24, the promotion of abstinence only programs over comprehensive sex education is criminal.