Candidates' positions are categorized as Pro (Yes), Con (No), Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found. Candidates who have changed their positions are listed as Now their most recent position. Candidates are listed by party and in alphabetical order by last name. Black & white photos indicate candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria for inclusion.
Should sex education in our schools be based on abstinence only?
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, issued the following statement through his Communications Director, Joe Hunter, in a Feb. 10, 2012 email to ProCon.org:
"All education in schools, whether it be about sex or mathematics, should be determined at the state and local level, and if freed from federal mandates, will reflect local priorities and values. Such local control, especially if combined with true school choice, will address issues of curricula and encourage parental influence thereon." Feb. 10, 2012 Gary Johnson
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, stated in an Apr. 20, 2008 article titled "Encore: Democratic Candidates Compassion Forum" on CNN.com:
"[W]hat I have consistently talked about is to take a comprehensive approach where we focus on abstinence, where we are teaching the sacredness of sexuality to our children.
But we also recognize the importance of good medical care for women, that we're also recognizing the importance of age-appropriate education to reduce risks. I do believe that contraception has to be part of that education process." Apr. 20, 2008 Barack Obama
Michele Bachmann, US Representative (R-MN), stated the following in a June 25, 2003 interview with Christian radio program Issues, Etc.:
Bachmann: "Our [Minnesota] law reads that we will teach abstinence until marriage in our sex-ed curriculum. And this legislator wanted to strike two words: 'until marriage.' And the reason why she wanted to strike that we will be teaching abstinence until marriage is because she said: 'well that’s not true for everyone, because your truth may be that you believe that people should be abstinent until marriage but not everyone does. Our society has changed,' she said, 'and so we need to strike the words, until marriage.' "
Todd Wilkin: "So in other words it sounds as though she was saying: because people disagree with abstinence until marriage…"
Bachmann: "We’ll adopt hedonism. [Laughter] In essence, that's what she is saying. That we will not have a standard. And the Bible presents a standard to which everyone can repair, whether you are a believer or not. It’s a wonderful standard, a glue that holds a society together." June 25, 2003 Michele Bachmann
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives (R-GA), on July 31, 1996 voted for HR 3734, Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which stated the following:
HR 3734 stated: "The purpose of an allotment under subsection (a) to a state is to enable the State to provide abstinence education, and at the option of the State, where appropriate, mentoring, counseling, and adult supervision to promote abstinence from sexual activity, with a focus on those groups which are most likely to bear children out-of-wedlock." July 31, 1996 Newt Gingrich
ProCon.org emailed the Paul campaign for his position to this question on Oct. 26, 2011, Nov. 4, 2011, Jan. 31, 2012, and Feb. 7, 2012. We also left follow up telephone messages on Oct. 26, 2011, Nov. 8, 2011, and on Feb. 2, 2012. We have not yet received a reply with Paul's position as of Feb. 9, 2012.
Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, stated the following in an Oct. 15, 2010 televised forum hosted by the Texas Tribune:
"Abstinence works... It works, maybe it's the-- maybe it's the way it's being taught, or the way that it's being applied out there. But, the fact of the matter is, it is the best form of-- to teach our children...
I'm just going to tell you, from my own personal life, abstinence works. And the point is, if we're not teaching it, and if we're not impressing it upon them, then no. But if, if the point is, we're gonna go, stand up here and say 'listen, y'all go have sex and go have the whatever is going on and we'll work with that, and here's the ways to have safe sex.' I'm sorry, you can call me old-fashioned if you want, but that is not what I'm gonna stand up in front of the people of the state of Texas and say that's the way, uh, we need to go and forget about abstinence." Oct. 15, 2010 Rick Perry
ProCon.org emailed the Roemer campaign for his position to this question on Oct. 26, 2011. We made a follow up call on Jan. 31, 2012, and we sent a follow up email on Feb. 8, 2012. Although Roemer's campaign manager and policy advisor did reply to our emails, we have not yet received Roemer's position on this issue as of Feb. 14, 2012.
Rick Santorum, former US Senator (R-PA), voted "yea" to retain a provision of the Budget Act that funds abstinence education to help reduce teenage pregnancy. He used $75 million of the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant Program during consideration of S. 1956 (Domenici), the Personal Responsibility, Work Opportunity and Medicaid Restructuring Act of 1996, available at THOMAS website, which stated in part:
"(5) ABSTINENCE EDUCATION- For purposes of this subsection, the term `abstinence education' means an educational or motivational program which--
'(A) has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;
'(B) teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school age children;
'(C) teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems;
'(D) teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;
'(E) teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;
'(F) teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child's 'arents, and society;
'(G) teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances; and
'(H) teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.'" July 23, 1996 Rick Santorum