Sexuality Education

Senate FY 2020 spending bill ignores sex ed, sexual and reproductive health care needs

For Immediate Release
September 18, 2019

Contact: Zach Eisenstein
Phone: (202) 265-2405 ext 3330

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its proposed spending measure to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Samantha Cyrulnik-Dercher, SIECUS’ Federal Policy Director, released the following statement in response:

“Once again, the Senate is putting ideology over evidence. This time, they are ignoring decades of research that prove abstinence-only programs, recently rebranded as ‘Sexual Risk Avoidance,’ are ineffective, outdated, and stigmatizing.

Funding for the Sexual Risk Avoidance program has quadrupled in the last four years. In FY 2016, it received $10 million dollars total, and has seen significant increases every year since. Now, the Senate is proposing to funnel $45 million to these failed programs in FY 2020 – adding onto the $2.2 billion that has already been wasted on abstinence-only programs. That’s more than just fiscally irresponsible – it actively causes harm to the young people subjected to these ideological and dangerous programs.

Let’s not forget what the Trump administration has done to the bipartisan Title X family planning program. Clinics around the country have been forced out of the program as a result of the administration’s dangerous, unethical gag rule–which violates Congressional intent for the program. 

The Senate’s proposal does nothing to restore the integrity of this life-saving, health-affirming program. It also ignores the fact that anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers are now receiving these federal funds to lie to pregnant patients about their options and refuse to provide birth control, as actual family planning clinics are forced out. 

Let’s be clear: The Trump administration is actively working to dismantle the nation’s only federal family planning program. The attacks on Title X are just the latest in a series of attempts to curb sexual and reproductive freedom by this administration–and the Senate refuses to take action. Instead, the Senate is increasing support for abstinence-only programs, eliminating programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities, cutting funds for life-saving syringe exchanges, and continuing to back the administration’s demonization of the communities most impacted by these cruel policies.

We have the tools to ensure the sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice of our nation — especially for those who are disparately impacted by these funding decisions, including but not limited to: low income individuals, communities of color, queer folks, young people, and those who live at intersections of these identities. But if the Senate continues to prioritize federal dollars to support ideology, not evidence, we will never be able to put those tools to use.”

The Senate bill includes the following:

  • $101 million for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and $6.8 million in TPPP evaluation funds (the same funding levels as FY 2019), with no protections against the Trump administration’s attacks on the program
  • Level funding of $33.1 million for the Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH), which provides school-based HIV prevention education and supports vital research like the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System
  • Level funding of $286.5 million for Title X, with no guardrails against the dangerous gag rule that is forcing providers out of the program
  • $45 million for the abstinence-only “Sexual Risk Avoidance” program, a $10 million increase over current funding
  • Elimination of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program, which is specifically dedicated to funding urban, rural, and tribal communities working to lessen and eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities


The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) has served as the national voice for sex education, sexual health, and sexual rights for over 50 years. SIECUS asserts that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human, one worthy of dignity and respect. We advocate for the rights of all people to accurate information, comprehensive sexuality education, and the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services. SIECUS works to create a world that ensures social justice inclusive of sexual and reproductive rights.