WASHINGTON (BP) — President Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget has drawn praise from advocates of teen sexual abstinence for asking Congress to double the percentage of sex education funds devoted to abstinence-based approaches.
Of the approximately $1 billion in federal funding for sex education annually, about 10 percent currently goes to programs that advocate delaying sexual activity. The figure will increase to 20 percent if Congress adopts Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, said Valerie Huber, president and CEO of Ascend (formerly the National Abstinence Education Association).
“We applaud President Trump for his immediate efforts to give more youth the skills they need to avoid sexual risk,” Huber said in a news release, adding “this is a good step in the right direction.”
Ascend supports “parity” in federal funding between abstinence-based programs and programs that do not urge abstinence, Huber said. Therefore, “we urge Congress to take the president’s recommendations and do all they can to give even more youth the opportunity to focus on their futures, rather than on any of the possible consequences of teen sex.”
Huber said in an interview with Baptist Press that Trump’s budget proposal — which Congress may accept, reject or amend — includes among its recommendations for abstinence-based sex education some $165 million in grants to programs devoted to sexual risk avoidance.
The president’s proposed budget, sent to Congress May 23, includes no funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, a sex-education initiative launched under the Obama administration that emphasizes risk reduction and “normalizes teen sex,” according to Ascend’s release.
“The majority of teens have not had sex, far fewer than 25 years ago,” Huber said. “We are eager to work with both Congress and the administration to ensure that these increasingly healthy choices are reinforced in sex education classes across America. The president’s proposed budget is a great start.”
Richard Ross, cofounder of the True Love Waits movement and a professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, applauded the abstinence-based approach to sexual education.
“Developmentally, toddlers don’t need to run with scissors,” Ross told BP in written comments. “And middle schoolers don’t need to smoke. And high schoolers don’t need to be sexually active outside marriage. We don’t have programs to teach toddlers how to run with scissors more safely, or programs to teach middle schoolers how to smoke more safely. But many in Washington are happy to wink at teen sex and then try to slightly reduce the often horrific consequences. The approach is illogical and inconsistent with other issues.
“In a pluralistic culture, I applaud an administration that seeks to motivate secular teenagers to delay sex,” Ross said. “Following God’s principles, even without realizing it, is healthy for teenagers and for society. But Christian teens are far more motivated by another factor. Most of those who embrace lifetime purity, single or married, do so because they adore King Jesus and live for His glory. There is no stronger motivation.”