As if President Donald Trump's 2018 budget hasn't raised enough red flags, his latest move in support of abstinence-only education will really leave you further questioning his decisions.
To add to the fact that he's taking away Federal funding from organizations in support of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, new statements have said Trump will back abstinence-only education programs and initiatives with a $227 million budget.
Quartz reports that the proposal is calling for the large sum of money to "extend abstinence education and personal responsibility education program" all the way until 2024.
It's certainly disheartening to see so much money backing programs that haven't been proven to help our youth in any way.
Abstinence-only sex education only drowns out the idea of sexual intercourse all together, instead of giving younger generations helpful resources that will keep them safe and prepared if they are end up contracting an STDs or having an unwanted pregnancy.
The Trump administration continues to ignore the fact that there is no clear evidence these abstinence-only programs have worked in preventing STDs and unplanned pregnancies, and are, in any way, more beneficial than general sexual education.
According to a 2011 study on abstinence-only education and teen pregnancy rates, national data has proven that "increasing emphasis on abstinence education is positively correlated with teenage pregnancy and birth rates." Meaning, as one increased, so do the others.
If this public information has proven abstinence-only education to be fruitless, it would make sense for the Trump administration not to throw more money toward this specific type of program.
If they'd done their research, they'd know sex before marriage is extremely common, and has been for a long, long time. Reports from the Guttmacher Institute support the concept of providing sexual education to young teens early on so they are prepared for when they do become sexually active.
"The data clearly show that the majority of older teens and adults have already had sex before marriage, which calls into question the federal government's funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for 12–29-year-olds," says study author Lawrence Finer, director of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute.
"It would be more effective to provide young people with the skills and information they need to be safe once they become sexually active—which nearly everyone eventually will.”
With a growing number of individuals delaying marriage until later on in life, the chances of them actually holding out from any type of sexual activity until then is low.
Needless to say, the fact that the Trump administration is discouraging people from being educated on a topic that affects their lives — particularly their health — so immensely is extremely unsettling.
To vocalize her thoughts on the budget proposal, Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth, had this to say:
Advocates for Youth is deeply disappointed in the President's proposed FY18 budget, which sends a loud and clear message that this Administration just does not care about young people, women, LGBTQ individuals, communities of color, or low-income families. Abstinence-only education is grossly ineffective, fact-free and leaves young people unprepared to take personal responsibility for their sexual health and relationships as they grow into young adults. Instead of catering to special interests and party ideology, President Trump should consider the plethora of research supporting comprehensive sex education. Honest sexual health information, paired with accessible reproductive and sexual health care that includes contraception, HIV and STD prevention, testing and treatment, is a far better investment in our nation. He would also do well to heed the leadership of youth activists all across the country demanding their schools adequately prepare them to lead safe and healthy lives. Advocates for Youth strongly rejects the President's Budget and urges Congress to do so as well.
Though the $277 million is still part of a "proposed" budget to Congress, it's clear where Trump's intentions lie when it comes to the future of sexual education.
Citations: The Truth About Abstinence-Only Programs (Advocates for Youth), Trump's Proposed Budget Would Invest $277 Million in Abstinence-Only Education (NYMag), Trump's Budget Throws Millions Toward Shame-Based Abstinence-Only Programs (Bustle), Premarital Sex Is Nearly Universal Among Americans, And Has Been For Decades (Guttmacher Institute), Trump's budget would devote $277 million to the least effective contraceptive method known to humankind (Quartz), Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S (NCBI)