Sex education programs that have been promoted by the Obama administration are not based on data that show a growing percentage of adolescents have been delaying sex over the past two decades, says a senior official from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
A 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows nearly 60 percent of high school students today have never had sex, an increase of 28 percent since 1991. This data complements research that also shows a historic drop in teen pregnancy rates since 1991.
Yet, despite the data that was produced during his own tenure, in his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017, former President Barack Obama eliminated all funding for sex education programs that focus on reinforcing healthy decisions made by adolescents and, instead, proposed funding only Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) programs that not only assume most adolescents are sexually active, but also normalize teen sex.
President Donald Trump’s budget proposed maintaining funding for sex education programs that focus on improving and maintaining adolescent health, and eliminating the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP). Despite its name, TPP encompasses the Comprehensive Sex Education approach that was initiated early on in the Obama administration, and advocated for and implemented by Planned Parenthood along with LGBT rights groups. Many of these programs have received millions of dollars in HHS grants and normalize teen and LGBT sex.
— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) December 2, 2015
“The previous administration tried an approach that just didn’t work,” a senior HHS official tells Breitbart News. “And our commitment requires that we change that approach.”
An HHS document points to 37 evaluations of TPP programs performed for grant applications to fund the programs.
“Overall, of the 37 funded and evaluated projects, 73% either had no impact or had a negative impact on teen behavior, with some teens more likely to begin having sex, to engage in unprotected sex, or to become pregnant,” HHS states. “Very few positive results were sustained over time.”
Yet – despite the negative results – the document notes the same curricula “remained on the TPP approved curricula list for the second round of replication grants, begun in 2015.”
“Given the strong evidence of negative impact or no impact for these programs, continuing the TPP Program in its current state is not a reasonable option,” the Trump HHS department concluded. “The evidence stands in stark contrast to the promised results, jeopardizing the youth who were served, while also proving to be a poor use of more than $800 million in taxpayer dollars.”
HHS has therefore recently announced a $10 million research project that proposes to rigorously evaluate sex education programs. According to the senior official who spoke to Breitbart News:
Should Congress continue funding the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, then this research is going to inform what that program will look like going forward. If Congress chooses to defund the TPP Program as we requested, then this will not be wasted research because this will be very helpful to a myriad of youth-serving programs that will continue here at HHS, specifically those at ACF [Administration for Children and Families] where the remaining sex ed programs are implemented.
A primary health issue, HHS notes, and as CDC has observed, is that, while teen sex and pregnancy rates are at record lows, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at record highs. HHS says sex education, therefore, “should be centered on science in the promotion of optimal health outcomes.”
“This is data we have at our fingertips which has not had a meaningful application within the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program to date,” the HHS spokesperson says. “And we think that’s not only unfortunate, but it is a disconnect from what is going to be relevant for young people.”
The official explains:
If we know that more teens are waiting to have sex today than 25 years ago, then shouldn’t we be reinforcing those healthy decisions and building upon that? Similarly, we know that teen pregnancy rates have decreased and yet sexually transmitted diseases and infection have increased to record levels. There’s something going on there, and we need to learn what it is and to make sure we make some amendments to the messages we’re communicating, because we can’t be satisfied with those numbers. Those are the real lives of young people who are being impacted – both for the short-term and often even for the long-term. So, there’s a large body of social science research that can inform not only what we present in these programs, but how it’s presented, and we’re going to build upon that with this new research.
The questions HHS hopes to answer scientifically through the research include those related to how healthy adolescent choices affect teens themselves – in both the short-term and long-term, their parents, and their communities.
“We know some things already from science and one is the longer a young person delays sex, the more likely they are to avoid other negative consequences as a result,” the HHS official continues. “And I’m not just talking about pregnancy here, I’m not even just talking about sexually transmitted diseases and infection. Social science research is correlative to an awful lot of other impacts that can affect the adolescent and that also can impact them throughout their life potentially.”
One of the components to be studied in the research concerns young people and their parents.
“We also want to talk to parents because oftentimes parents underestimate the impact and importance of their talking about these topics with their young people,” the official explains. “And so we want to understand where parents are struggling, what they understand, and how to bridge that so that they can become more the sex educators for their young children. This research is going to help uncover that, both from the teens’ perspective and from the parents’ perspective.”
HHS notes it is important for young people that sex education programs not be enmeshed with politics.
“We want their health to be improved and maintained, and the goal has to be optimal health outcomes, not something that might have an argument from a political sense, but could compromise their health as a result,” the official said. “We’re not going to go there. This is not about politics, this is about health.”
“So, whether the TPP is eliminated – as our administration recommends – or continues to be funded, we’re going to look long and hard at how this program has been implemented over the past seven years, and we’re going to focus on improving health as a result,” the official says.
Ultimately, however, it is up to Congress to decide which programs are funded by American taxpayers.
“Obviously, we’re going to abide by any legislative mandates, but we are not going to compromise the health of young people by normalizing teen sex when, in fact, the majority of teens are not having sex,” the HHS spokesperson says.