Abstinence-Only Education: The Creationism of Sex
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I’ve long said that proponents of abstinence-only education are the creationists of sex – they’re fueled by religious fervor that distracts them from the fact that they have no scientific facts on their side, they’re not content to just ruin their own kids’ minds, they try to insert their ridiculous beliefs into politics, and they make the world a dumber place.
Well now we can add another similarity: as three activists point out in a commentary for RH Reality Check, abstinence-only education proponents – okay, we seriously need a shorter term for them akin to creationists. Like “anti-sexualists”. Anyway, the anti-sex brigade are starting to co-opt scientific language, exactly how creationists did when they tried to warp the word “theory” and pretend “intelligent design” had anything to do with science.
All the scientific data we have shows that abstinence-only education does not work: kids who get it have higher rates of STDs and teen pregnancies, which of course leads to more abortions. Plus, even if kids do remain abstinent until marriage, there’s the sticky question of what happens after marriage: young people rush into marriage to have sex, and then immediately get saddled with a pregnancy they may not want or be able to afford. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.
But despite their lack of scientific evidence, they realize that science can help them sell their ideology. So, they’ve taken old bills that were proposed using language akin to “because sex is gross, ew” and have rewritten them to include phrases like “medically accurate,” “age-appropriate,” and “evidence-based.”
And it’s working! Congress just quietly passed the first increase of the 18-year old Title Five program, which funds abstinence-only education. The increase is $25 million a year, and additionally any leftover funds, which previously would go back to the treasury, now go to states that implement abstinence-only education.
The last 30 years have seen nearly $2 billion of tax dollars wasted on a program that is scientifically proven to make the US a worse place to live. We could have taken all that money, saved it, and then this year we could have bought every single person in the United States a Happy Drinking Bird, which is not only pleasant to watch but also provides a fun lesson on the laws of thermodynamics. Most importantly, the happy drinking bird does not teach teenagers pseudoscience that encourages them to think of their own natural sexual desires as disgusting and immoral, leading to both psychological pain as well as physical pain in the form of sexually transmitted diseases like HPV, HIV, and babies.
In conclusion, abstinence-only education: no. Happy drinking birds: yes.