SEX EDUCATION PUBLIC POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Primary emphasis on SRA Abstinence Education programs in federal sex education policy.
2. More equality in funding between SRR “Comprehensive” Sex Education and SRA Abstinence Education programs.
3. Eliminate the false sense of security that teens acquire in ”safe” sex messaging by mandating that medically accurate information be given regarding the limitations on protection offered by condoms and other contraceptive methods.
4. End the censorship and discriminatory practices in sex education against at-risk populations.
5. Provide all youth, including gay teens, with skills to delay sex.
6. Share with teens, the social science research regarding the advantages of waiting until marriage before engaging in sex.
Regardless of the outcome of the November 6, 2012 election, the results of the Parents Speak Out survey should inform the general sex education debate and be used to advise public policy regarding sex education. Respondents among the study’s many subgroups oppose President Obama’s perennial call for the elimination of SRA Abstinence Education programs. Whoever earns the right to serve as Chief Executive in 2013 should work to re-establish a more balanced sex education policy, with the messaging within SRA Abstinence Education programs given priority. Parents -- Republican and Democrat, Black, Hispanic, and White -- all favor this policy revision.
Regardless of the balance of power in Congress, more parity in funding between the SRR “Comprehensive” Sex Education and SRA Abstinence Education approaches should be established. Republicans and Democrats favor this funding approach, with Democrats even slightly more supportive than Republicans. The FY 2013 House Appropriations LHHS bill passed earlier this year serves as an excellent model. It has been our experience that when lawmakers understand the true content and effectiveness of the SRA approach, they are willing to offer support. Efforts at correcting the misinformation and distortions promoted by anti-abstinence groups need to be pursued if sound policy decisions are to be enacted by elected officials.
In their anonymous responses, parents opened a window into their views regarding sex education for their children. Policy makers would be prudent to listen, for no other voice is more invested in the success of teens than parents. The responses provided in the present survey are among the most guileless available because their only agenda is the well being of their respective children.
The study showed that parents strongly support their children being given accurate information about the limitations of condoms. They want their children to know “safe” sex is not assured by the use of a condom. Many currently funded “Comprehensive” sex education programs provide information that leads students to mistaken believe that they are “risk free” so long as they use a condom. Compromising the health of youth by this inaccurate messaging must end.
The study’s results suggest that the current “war on women” campaign ignores a key component of reproductive health, expressly, SRA Abstinence Education.
Women support this approach even more than men, yet current policy ignores the empowerment factor intrinsic within the themes and messages of an abstinence program. Women appear to recognize these elements as supporting their optimal health and future success.
Some responses broke inaccurate stereotypes that have been used for years to implement discriminatory practices among at-risk populations – practices which censored best-health SRA Abstinence Education messages. Such activities must end immediately.
The broad support for providing all teens, regardless of sexual orientation with skills to help them avoid sexual risk should speak to HIV/AIDS activists who spurn abstinence education under the mistaken pretense that the messages have no relevance to this important subgroup. Parents have come alongside conventional public health priorities that encourage the best health outcomes for all targeted populations. Current policies that ignore the need to include a clear priority on risk avoidance to all teens, regardless of sexual orientation, should be immediately amended. Such amendments can be implemented with confidence knowing that public health protocols should demand such a change and that parents also support these messages for their children.
Parents widely support their teens waiting until marriage before engaging in sex. Perhaps parents see, as social science research supports, that the goals for SRA Abstinence Education provide a true opportunity to improve the advantage their children will have for future success. Abstinence until marriage is overwhelmingly supported by social science research. Policymakers should refuse to be intimidated by special interest groups who are willing and all-too-eager to ignore the benefits of bearing children in marriage.
The Parents Speak Out survey results should provide a wake-up call to policy leaders in Washington, DC, and across the nation. The results clearly reveal that many leaders are out of touch with what parents and their own constituency and support base favor regarding sex education. The results of the present study clearly communicate that the political divide over sex education is misguided. Bipartisan support for SRA Abstinence Education should increase and champions on both sides of the aisle should share these findings with their colleagues. The survey results provide a strong endorsement of SRA Abstinence Education as a preferred choice for sex education. Parents and policymakers alike should be encouraged that this support is in good company with a deep bench of research-informed practices, theories, and implementation strategies that offer the best sexual health outcomes for America’s youth.