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Abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs made prevalent over the last decade remain widespread in U.S. public schools, despite failure to demonstrate effectiveness at reducing the onset of teenage sexual activity or decreasing unplanned pregnancies or the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (Kirby, 2007; Trenholm, et al., 2007). These programs remain popular in the face of The Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP) (2010), which created a funding stream for medically-accurate sexuality education programs that have demonstrated evidence of success at meeting program goals. Long-standing objections about the efficacy and ethics of AOUM programs are valid and compelling; however opponents often fail to tackle the programs’ most egregious flaws–an insistence on teaching of marriage, per se, as the ideal condition for a healthy sexual relationship despite lack of evidence to support that premise. AOUM programs further fail to encourage young people to develop their own sexual values and ethics through critical reflection and an understanding of the fundamentals of human sexuality, while the persistent emphasis on youth sexual activity in a negative light may inhibit young people from experiencing sexual pleasure and satisfaction into adulthood.

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