The Upshot

Obama’s sex-ed compromise has both sides angry

Liz Goodwin
The Upshot

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Both pro-abstinence and comprehensive sex-ed camps feel slighted by the Obama administration's gradual approach to shifting instruction in sex education away from the abstinence-only model, reports the Washington Post's Rob Stein.

Obama discontinued two separate federal funding streams for abstinence-only education after a congressionally mandated independent study showed that several abstinence-only programs were not effective at preventing sexual activity among youth.

But in the heated battle over health-care reform, Congress restored an additional $50 million a year for five years to abstinence-only programs, in a concession to conservative lawmakers who support the programs.

However, advocates of abstinence education point out that the $50 million annual outlay is dwarfed by the funds the administration has poured into pregnancy prevention campaigns and other comprehensive sex-ed efforts. At the same time, the sum is big enough to upset advocates for comprehensive sex ed, who say some of the funded programs ask teens to take "virginity pledges" and discourage pregnant women from getting abortions.

"They are funding programs that censor information about condoms and birth control and have elements that are clearly ideological and not science-based," James Wagoner of the group Advocates for Youth told the Post.

Meanwhile, abstinence-only advocates told the paper they resent that their funding stream has been reduced so drastically. Over the past two decades, the federal government poured about $1.5 billion into abstinence-only programs.

(Photo of two Florida students in a sex education class: AP)

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