Abstinence and the Left
Why does the New York Times hate teen abstinence?


Robert Rector

Finally, abstinence education teaches (with special emphasis for poor, at-risk youth) that marriage can be beneficial to children, adults, and society. The black out-of-wedlock birth rate in the U.S. now hovers at 70 percent; the overall out-of-wedlock birth rate is nearly 40 percent. Non-marital births overwhelmingly occur to the least-educated parents, and out-of-wedlock childbearing is the strongest cause of child poverty in the United States. Therefore, one might think that mentioning the benefits of marriage to at-risk youth would be good idea.

Wrong! Nothing outrages the Left’s sex-ed advocacy industry more than telling at-risk youth that healthy marriage might be a good thing for them. (Safe bet: No sex-ed curriculum funded by the current Congress will say anything positive about marriage.)

Now, to return to the Times editorial, it’s true that the recently evaluated abstinence program urged abstinence but apparently did not contain the three themes outlined above. However, there is no reason to assert, as the Times does, that this abstinence program succeeded precisely because it lacked these themes. There had been eleven prior evaluations documenting the success of traditional abstinence programs, which the Times neglected to mention to its readers.

The bottom line: The sex-ed industry’s successful effort to kill federally funded abstinence education was about liberating teens from “ideological” and “moralistic” messages. The dilemma for the Left is that parents overwhelmingly approve these messages and condemn the core values of the “comprehensive” sex-ed programs currently pushed by Congress. Teaching teens that “hooking up” is a fine idea so long as you use a condom just doesn’t fly.

Hawking a product no one wants, most left-wing sex-education advocates conceal their agenda with smoke and mirrors. Since most liberal pundits have never read the actual curricula they condemn or applaud, it’s no surprise the pundit class sometimes ends up deceiving itself.

– Robert Rector is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.