Do you know the presidential candidates’ record on sex education?

(The following has been reprinted from SEICUS’ publication DEVELOPMENTS. You can see the original on their website.)

The Presidential Candidates On Sex Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

The U.S. President has the power to fundamentally lead and change our nation’s approach to promoting and securing sex education and in reducing disease burdens such as those caused by sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The Bush administration has taken a decidedly backward and anti-science approach to these issues in its war on evidence-based prevention and in its promotion of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. The next President has an opportunity to reverse this harm. Below are the key positions of the presidential contenders on the issues of sex education and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. SIECUS believes that knowledge empowers and that in order to vote, advocates need to know the key positions of the candidates on these important issues so that voters can be fully informed and engaged.

Democratic Nominee, Barack Obama

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

  • Senator Obama supports comprehensive sex education that is age-appropriate. He is a co-sponsor of the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act, which would provide funding for comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality education.
  • Senator Obama is also a co-sponsor of the Prevention First Act, which is a package of legislation that seeks to prevent unintended pregnancy and increase access to comprehensive contraceptive services and information.
  • He supports sex education for younger ages, provided it is age-appropriate, and has indicated that his position is based on the fact that age-appropriate comprehensive sex education includes such topics as learning the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching to educate young children on what to do should they ever be faced with an abusive situation.

Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

  • Senator Obama firmly opposes federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and has stated that “it’s the right thing to do…to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools.”

Republican Nominee, John McCain

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

  • Senator McCain has not cosponsored the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act or the Prevention First Act, the two major legislative initiatives in the Senate designed to establish the first-ever dedicated federal support for comprehensive sex education.
  • In July 2006, Senator McCain voted against an amendment which would have invested in comprehensive sexuality education and teen pregnancy prevention initiatives.

Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

  • A statement from Senator McCain’s campaign noted that the Senator “strongly opposes efforts by the Democratic-controlled Congress to eliminate abstinence-only sex education classes for school-aged children. Senator McCain believes the correct policy for educating young children on this subject is to promote abstinence as the only safe and responsible alternative.”

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