Reports indicate that comprehensive sexuality education programs, which encourage abstinence until marriage but also recognize the realities of sexuality and behavior among teenagers by addressing issues relating to contraception and safer sex, are effective in delaying the onset of sexual activity, reduce the number of partners, and decrease the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.
Under current law, abstinence-only-until-marriage programming is the only federally-funded sex education. There are currently three separate federal funding streams for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, allocating $176 million a year for a total of $1.3 billion during President Bush's administration. There is no dedicated federal funding stream for comprehensive sex education.
The Reform Jewish Movement is committed to responsible, medically accurate sexuality education for young people, which includes information about both abstinence and contraception. While teaching about abstinence is important, it must not be the only message offered. Judaism teaches that we are created in the image of God, and that the guiding principle of sexuality in the Jewish tradition is K'doshim tih'yu, "You shall be holy," which means that sexuality is linked to blessing, commandment, and God.
In the next few weeks, Congress will be drafting a budget for Fiscal Year 2010 and it should include at least $50 million directed to fund comprehensive sex education. It must also eliminate funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
In emails, faxes, and phone calls, please contact your Senators and Representative and ask him or her to include at least $50 million for comprehensive sex ecucation and to strike funding for ineffective abstinence-only programs in his first budget. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121. You can also send an email below.