We Sent A Man To The Moon, Maybe We Can Have Real Sex Ed: Ending Title V

So far in the New World Order of a Republican-majority House of Representatives, de-funding demonstrably important things while supporting hugely expensive and demonstrably unimportant things has been the name of the game. But this week is notable in that, for once, someone is trying to take away a program and it makes perfect sense.

Yesterday Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) re-introduced a bill that would end abstinence-only programs forever: the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act. It’s a remarkably accurate and to-the-point title.

Since 1996, Congress has spent almost $1.5 billion on abstinence-only programs, despite a wealth of evidence that they are ineffective. In fact, no study in a professional peer-reviewed journal has found abstinence-only programs to be broadly effective. While our Congress searches to ensure that every tax dollar is spent in an effective manner, this legislation furthers this pursuit by defunding a program that has not been proven effective.

Title V abstinence-only funding was first introduced by President Clinton as part of welfare reform, and gave grants of $50 million to states which put together sex ed programs that met a strict eight-point definition of “abstinence-only.” Due to being dismally ineffective, Title V was allowed to expire in 2009, but then resurrected as part of health care reform (which, yes, seems insane, we have no explanation as to why), and thirty states applied for its funding. Even more than just a recognition that our country has nowhere near enough money to be throwing it at programs that have been proven time and time again not to work, this act recognizes the fundamentally backwards nature of abstinence-until-marriage education (especially for queer kids, for whom the concepts of “virginity” and “until marriage” are somewhere between confusing, insulting, and laughable) and puts the money towards something totally new and kind of awesome-sounding: PREP, the Personal Responsibility Education Program, which would provide $75 million per year to the states for comprehensive sexual education.

Programs funded by PREP must provide young people with complete, medically accurate, and age-appropriate sex education in order to help them reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other STIs. Programs must also address life skills so that young people can make responsible decisions and lead safe and healthy lives.

As with virtually every positive action the government could conceivably take at this point, the future of this act is seriously questionable due to the fact that it would require the support and votes of the Republican House. We can hope that Republican Congress-people will recognize that this aligns perfectly with their agenda of reducing abortions, reducing strain on the healthcare and health insurance industries due to easily preventable diseases, citizens taking their health and wellbeing in their own hands instead of relying upon government agencies to fix their problems, and most of all, SAVING THE CHILDREN. Probably they won’t, though, so in the meantime feel free to call them, or at least sign this petition. Fingers crossed for a future where every kid gets the chance to be grossed out by trying to put a condom on a banana.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Super cool. But shouldn’t it be “comprehensive sexual education” not “comprehensive sexual orientation?” Cool as that would be…

  2. i never put a condom on a banana which makes me feel like i missed out on something. nope, i just out a condom on the real thing. boo, my experience.

    • So e, a friend of mine was a Peace Corps volunteer and was posted in a country that can only be described as “discouraging” of homosexuals…(you know who you are)

      She was advised to NOT bring her toys *ahem* in country as they would be confiscated. However, being the brilliant, resourceful woman she is–she used bananas and condoms the entire 2 years…..

      I remember a very funny Facebook picture in which she and her girlfriend are shown buying two bunches of bananas with shit-eating grins on their faces…..

      So, you never know what will happen in life–just be prepared mija ;-)

  3. Our sex-ed books (mind you, this is Texas), were titled:

    Abstinence: A Choice for Life

    and I was like, wtf? it’s a life sentence now? HELL to the NO!!! This meant I didn’t listen to a word that teacher said all semester. Also according to that textbook gay people didn’t exist, which I thought was funny.

    • How can abstinence be a choice “for life”? because if you never do it then you don’t do babies (in a strictly heteronormative point of view) and then there is no more life (in a strictly humanocentric point of view)

  4. this is maybe the smartest thing ever? and so i feel like there’s no way it’s going to happen. and it’s that feeling that weirds me out.

    • An astute, albeit fatalistic, observation concerning our governmental system. I agree with your sentiments.

  5. This is good news, I suppose. Maybe move it all the education regarding these sort of grey area topics onto the internet. Have a different options for whichever kind of belief you want to foster in your existence. Mandatory computer education etc… At least the kids might be able to sneak in a little education if they are curious.

  6. I never had to look at a drawing or picture of a man’s ……, ever. One bonus of abstinence only education.

  7. As a result of living in so many different states throughout my years of secondary education, I took three health classes. In 6th grade, we “learned” where babies come from (although it may be a little late to teach that to kids who are already discovering their sexuality) but other than that, there was never any mention of sex, sexuality, methods of protection, etc. in 8th or 9th grade. Also, everyone is straight.

    Petition signed and passed on, yo.

  8. I had the atypical sex ed experience, very similar to what is described above in PREP. We talked about everything in health class in middle school and high school and in a high school with 2000 kids only had 1 pregnancy all 4 years I was there.
    I think it worked…

  9. I do not see learning about sex as being fundamentally different than learning about any other aspect of life. I must be insane, I think the best sex ed would just be if kids questioned trusted adults of their choosing about whatever they wanted to know, and the adults answered as best they could.

  10. I’m an Australian highschooler, and OH BOY SEX ED. Most awkward and yet incredibly informative month or so of my life.

    If only they’d taught us about gay sex.

    • Brilliant idea—can you just see the email that goes home to parents in the weekly school communication thingy…

      “and next week starts our Sexual Education Unit in which students actually learn age-appropriate information they will need in life, they will ask questions of well-informed, non-judgmental teachers and new this year—Bonus LGBT Sexuality Unit !! ” (refreshments will be served)

  11. I knew that American schools taught abstinence but I can’t believe the extent of it. I’m a 17 year old Australian and I had some form of sex ed at school from about the age of 10 to the age of 15. (10-12 obviously to do with puberty rather than safe sex though.) We got told how to use every kind of contraceptive available in Australia and what lube to use and stuff and that did include what to use when it came to same sex relations. When we practiced putting condoms on sex toys our teacher even told us to see if we could do it with our eyes shut because this would usually be done in the dark haha. How do you guys find out about all that stuff if you don’t learn it in school?

    • Wow. I thought I had fairly good sex ed, because I went to a private school and to a hippie camp here in the US. But I was still putting condoms on cucumbers, not sex toys. Sex toys were not discussed. That’s amazing.

      In answer to your question, sadly a lot of American kids learn about sex from their sex partners, who usually don’t know any more than they do, or know really wrong stuff.

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