Recently, the Obama administration quietly updated its list of “evidence-based programs” that “met the effectiveness criteria” for preventing teenage pregnancy and are therefore endorsed by the Department of Health and Human Services. This list includes the Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education program. Which is weird because, like basically all abstinence-only programs ever, it doesn’t work.
According to RH Reality Check, a 2007 study found that the program “had little or no impact on sexual abstinence or activity.” But that makes it sound like Heritage is just ineffective but harmless. In fact, while it “contains little or no information about puberty, anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, or sexual behavior,” it does teach kids some stuff. Here’s a sample:
“Males and females are aroused at different levels of intimacy. Males are more sight orientated whereas females are more touch orientated.” The implications of this difference are explained further: “This is why girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts. ” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 46)
“Sex is like fire. Inside the appropriate boundary of marriage, sex is a great thing! Outside of marriage, sex can be dangerous.” (Heritage Keeper, Student Manual, p. 22)
“Cohabitation (when two people live together before marriage) is not like marriage! [Heritage Keepers, p. 30] When couples live together outside of marriage, the relationships are weaker, more violent, less [equal], and more likely to lead to divorce.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 26)
“One reason may be that when people bond closely through sexual activity, then break up and bond with someone else, and then someone else, it may become increasingly difficult to maintain a lasting bond.” (Heritage Keepers, Teacher Manual, p. 56)
Young women are asked to envision their wedding day: “Everything is just as you have seen it in a million daydreams…” When the bride takes her father’s arm: “Your true love stands at the front. This is the man who you have waited for (remained abstinent for) and who has waited for you…This man wants to be strong and courageous for you, to cherish and protect you…You are ready to trust him with all that you have and all that you are, because you have waited (sexually) you have it all to give.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 49)
As the youth advocates at RH Reality Check write, “The Obama Administration’s endorsement of this abstinence-only-until marriage program runs in direct contradiction to its stated commitment to the health and well-being of young people and, quite possibly, its promise to uphold science and evidence.” But, of course, we already know what HHS thinks about science.