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Raising Expectations in the Rockies: Colorado’s Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Industry and the Imperative for Real Sex Ed

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  • There is significant proof that abstinence-only-until-education programs are a waste of money, and a glance at any of the curricula reveals the damaging stereotypes that these programs uphold.
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  • CDC: One-third of sex ed omits birth control
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  • Playing With Teen Sex Statistics: A Lesson in Lies
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Lisa Olcese and Jen Heitel Yakush, RH Reality Check

The debate between abstinence-only-until-marriage and comprehensive sex education can seem deceptively simple.  Youth are either given an education that demonizes sex and withholds information about contraceptives or STDs, or, if they’re lucky, they have access to programs that teach them how to make responsible and informed decisions, without fear or shame.  The right choice is clear, and once state governments decide to devote funding and attention to comprehensive sexuality education, the abstinence-only-until-marriage industry will vanish like a bad dream.

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A glance at Colorado, though, shows us that nothing is ever that easy.  Despite its increasingly progressive policies on sex education, the state is quickly becoming a testing ground for implementation of comprehensive sexuality education programs where abstinence-only-until-marriage programs continue to flourish despite a lack of federal funds.  The Healthy Colorado Youth Alliance and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) teamed up to create a report, Raising Expectations in the Rockies: Colorado’s Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Industry and the Imperative for Real Sex Education, detailing both the failures of Colorado’s abstinence-only-until-marriage industry as well as the advances made in the state in the fight to implement comprehensive sexuality education. This new report provides an extensive overview of abstinence-only-until-marriage providers and the ways that these programs, without changing their fundamental message, have adapted to Colorado’s new policies while continuing to misinform the state’s youth. The report also address the gains made and the challenges local schools districts still face to implement comprehensive sexuality instruction consistent with state law.

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Related:

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CDC: One-third of sex ed omits birth control, Mike Stobbe, Associated Press, in Google

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  • Comprehensive sex education declined from 1995 to 2002, and this report seems to indicate that it hasn't changed since then.
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  • Raising Expectations in the Rockies: Colorado’s Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Industry and the Imperative for Real Sex Ed
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Playing With Teen Sex Statistics: A Lesson in Lies, Amanda Marcotte,  RHRealityCheck.org
If most high school kids aren’t having sex yet, that means that it’s that much more important to get them good sex education, so when they start having sex---and statistics overwhelmingly show that they will---they know how to make healthy choices.