Lest we forget in the list of Incredibly Basic Things the Democrats Didn't Accomplish in Two Years, the federal government is still funding abstinence-only education. The Senate introduced a bill to stop that money, but I'm guessing it's too late in the year to actually pass anything (via Feministing):
The "Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act" would strike Title V, Section 510 from the Social Security Act. That provision has been the funding mechanism for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for nearly 15 years. The bill would reprogram $50 million annually to evidence-based, comprehensive sex education programs funded through the Personal Responsibility Education (PREP) program. PREP funds comprehensive sex education programs that provide both abstinence and contraception information to teens and educate them about sexually transmitted diseases.
With the amount of attention that gay students are getting this week from the wider LGBT community, we should be reminded that messages about the inferiority of LGBT people are not just tolerated by schools, but often propagated by the schools themselves. Instead of focusing only on punishment of offenders, we should be asking what created the environment in which young people think it's OK to ostracize someone for their gender or sexuality.
Abstinence-only education not only does nothing to help straight students avoid pregnancy and STD's, queer students are completely ignored and maligned in such programs. While official programs don't usually address queer kids at all other than to stress that the only sex people should be having is with a heterosexual, married (to you) partner, many schools and districts still find ways to include homophobia in sex education anyway.
Not that a few incidents of school-sanctioned homophobia should really be necessary to show that these programs are specifically geared towards the elimination of gay sexuality; the main message to students is that LGB people are so unspeakably disgusting that they can't even be mentioned in a discussion of penises and puberty and uteruses. The direct teaching for LGB students is to ignore their libido, keep their pants on until marriage, and find a partner of the opposite sex tolerable enough to spend their life with while devoting their spare time to constructing ships-in-a-bottle, which is so ridiculous they just interpret it as another reason to think that they're the only one's who feel as they do and are inferior to others.
Inherent to abstinence-only education is stressing that there's one good way to have a sex drive, several normal-but-undesirable ways (like premarital heterosexual sex and rape), and numerous sexualities that are so terrible that people can't even discuss. The word "only" is about excluding others, about hierarchy. And the federal government, under a Democratic House, Senate, and White House, is still paying real money to send that message.
Having people in positions of authority who are forced to say that only heterosexuality and traditional gender roles are normal or desired can't be helping.