Education: Remain a Virgin

Sexual abstinence is the practice of restraining oneself from indulging in both intercourse and outercourse. For many years, sex education in American public schools took on the abstinence-only sex education narrative. Educators pushed the narrative that the only way to avoid instances like teen pregnancies and the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases was to avoid sexual relations altogether. While this may initially seem like a reasonable approach to keeping teens safe from sexual mishaps, it was actually just a rebranding of pushing virginity onto young people. Rather than educating teens about the consequences of STDs, contraceptives and alternatives, or even just general safe sexual education, educators used fear tactics to influence teens to remain abstinent. The stigma around sex evolved from this inability to even talk about the subject, let alone teach about it. This resulted in endless misconceptions about sex, adding to the existing lack of knowledge about female sexuality. Teens contracted STDs and became pregnant at higher rates because instead of teaching students the safe ways to be sexually active, it became easier to teach them not to be sexually active at all [ 10 ]. The culture of virginity in education solely results in people being both sexually uneducated and underprepared.

In 1996, under the Clinton presidency, the welfare overhaul included funding exclusively for abstinence-only sex education. In fact, until recent years it was the only form of sex education that had any cemented federal funding for public education. This inclusion of abstinence-only sex education funding in the welfare overhaul was extremely out of place, and this wouldn’t be the last time. Moving into the late 2000s during the beginning of the Obama administration, abstinence-only education was slowly, very slowly, becoming less accepted in school environments as sexual education programs began leaning into comprehensive sex education. As part of the 2010 health care reform, more federal funding was granted towards abstinence-only sex education despite the nationwide transition away from virginity based education [ 11 ]. Abstinence-only education has been proven to be an ineffective form of sex education as it neglets to teach or reduce sexual risk behaviors, reinforces harmful gendered stereotypes, and encourage the spread of sexual misinfomation [ 12 ]. 


[ 10 ] Stanger-Hall, Kathrin F., and David W. Hall. 2011. “Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the US.” NCBI.

[ 11 ] Hess, Amie. "The Politics of Virginity: Abstinence in Sex Education." Social Forces89, no. 3 (03, 2011): 1080-1082. doi:

[ 12 ] Santelli, John. 2017. “Abstinence Only Education is a Failure | Columbia Public Health.” Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. 

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