Don't Touch Abstinence Education (Rep. John Boozman)

Unless there is a shift in fortunes, it is likely that federally mandated money for abstinence education will be eliminated at the end of June. Currently, the government is required to grant $50 million per year for abstinence education, thanks to the overhaul in welfare passed by Republicans in 1996. The grant program was set to expire last year, but was granted a six-month extension in the last Congress.

It was reported in May that House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) plans to quietly let abstinence education die at the end of June. The same article hints at the elimination of $110 million in discretionary spending for abstinence programs. A spokesperson for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was quoted in the report as saying she will defer to Chairman Dingell on the elimination of abstinence education.

Recently, I added my name to a letter to Chairman Dingell calling for the money to be reauthorized. The reason why is simple: America's parents want abstinence education for their children.

In early May, a national poll showed nearly 80% of America's parents think abstinence should be taught over contraception in sex education classes. Additionally, 83% of those parents think their children should wait to have sex until marriage.

I believe in abstinence education. As a former school board member, I have seen firsthand how this education can help children and families. I do not think the Speaker, or her leadership team, should be making decisions on the sex education needs of our children in place of America's mothers and fathers.

Any move, or lack thereof, which leads to the elimination of this program shows a clear disconnect with the American people, and sends the massage that the Speaker doesn’t trust parents on this issue, and she’ll choose what types of sex-education classes will be taught to their children.

I reaffirm my call to fully-fund this program, and look forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to give America’s parents and children all of the information they need to make an informed choice about sex education, which includes teaching the benefits of abstinence.

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