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Large majority of likely voters support sex education, disagree with abstinence-only-until-marriage programs

New York, NY — A new survey released today by Planned Parenthood shows that 98 percent of likely voters support sex education in high school, and 89 percent of likely voters support sex education in middle school — in stark contrast to the Trump-Pence administration’s push for abstinence-only programs. The survey also found that nearly seven in 10 likely voters support the federal government funding teen pregnancy prevention programs that both encourage teens to wait to have sex and provide them with information about birth control and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

It’s clear: Americans don’t want what the Trump-Pence administration is selling,” said Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Americans overwhelmingly want sex education taught in schools, and they do not want to see a return to ineffective abstinence-only programs. We’re at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy in this country and a historic low for pregnancy among teenagers. Sex education and access to family planning services have been critical to helping teens stay safe and healthy — now is not the time to walk back that progress.

Conducted in February by GfK, the survey findings come after the Trump-Pence administration recently announced plans to radically remake the successful Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and push ineffective abstinence-only programs, rather than the wide range of programs proven to help young people stay healthy. According to the most recent evidence review and position paper by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, a large body of scientific data finds that abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs —sometimes rebranded as “sexual risk avoidance” programs — are not an effective way to delay sex or prevent sexual risk behaviors. These programs withhold important facts and may provide medically inaccurate and stigmatizing information.

In February, Planned Parenthood, along with local government, health care, and oversight organizations, filed four lawsuits in federal courts in Washington, Maryland, and the District of Columbia challenging the Trump-Pence administration’s unlawful halt of the TPPP grant agreements.

Despite the TPPP’s success, the Trump administration unlawfully terminated the program at  three years, instead of the five-year grant term. TPPP is a gold-star example of evidence-based policymaking in action and the grantees were given no explanation for the termination. After facing widespread criticism from members of Congress, the medical community, and numerous advocacy groups, the administration has released inconsistent and inaccurate public statements in an attempt to justify its decision.

This survey follows a poll on Wednesday that showed widespread opposition to a domestic gag rule, and other policies from the Trump-Pence administration that roll back reproductive rights.

All young people have the right to receive accurate information and skills to protect their health and plan their futures. Sex education is widely supported by parents, youth, likely voters, and experts like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said Laguens. “The Trump-Pence administration should listen to the American people and stop attacking programs that work.

The recent Trump-Pence attacks on sex education are not isolated -- since taking office, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have pushed policy after policy blocking people’s rights to health care and unbiased information. They have:

  • Issued a rule to allow employers to deny birth control coverage to their employees;
  • Ended protections for sexual assault survivors on campus; and
  • Most recently, proposed a nationwide gag rule, that would make it illegal for doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers across the country that participate in the Title X program to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion — designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.

People have a right to access unbiased, accurate education about their health, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or what their background is. It is doing all it can to push policies that eliminate our basic health and rights,” said Laguens. "The Trump-Pence administration is trying to impose its ideology on millions. This is not what the American people want.

Survey Findings

  • 89 percent of likely voters feel it is important to have sex education in middle school.

  • 98 percent of likely voters feel it is important to have sex education in high school.

  • The survey found high levels of support among likely voters for sex education that addresses a wide range of topics in both middle and high school including birth control, STIs and HIV, healthy relationships, puberty, sexual orientation, and consent.
    • 96 percent  of likely voters think information about STIs and HIV should be included in middle school sex education; and 82 percent  think information about birth control should be included in middle school sex education.
    • 99 percent  of likely voters think information about STIs and HIV should be included in high school sex education; and 94 percent  think information about birth control should be included in high school sex education.
  • Over two-thirds (68 percent) of likely voters support maintaining federal funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), which help teens delay sex, improve contraceptive use, and/or prevent pregnancy.

  • The majority of likely voters (69 percent) support federal government funding for programs that both encourage teens to postpone sex and provide them with information about birth control and STIs.

  • 73 percent of likely voters think the federal government should fund programs to prevent unplanned teen pregnancy.
    • 85 percent of those respondents believe these programs should focus on encouraging teens to delay sex until they are ready and prepare them for the possible consequences of sex.
    • Only 15 percent supported programs focused solely on encouraging teens to delay sex until they are married.

As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood knows that young people need to understand what a healthy relationship looks like and have the opportunity to practice good communication skills before they become sexually active. We are proud to provide sex education and health services that help young people plan their futures and prevent both unintended pregnancies and STIs.

Online and in person, Planned Parenthood provides young people with age-appropriate, medically accurate information and answers to their questions about sex and relationships, without shame or judgment. Planned Parenthood affiliates provide education and outreach to 1.5 million people each year. And Planned Parenthood websites in English and Spanish provide accurate, nonjudgmental information about sexual and reproductive health to more than 73 million visitors each year.


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives


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