In an attempt to illustrate the negligible impact of the recent across-the-board spending cuts resulting from sequestration, several Fox News anchors spent Friday morning bemoaning the amount of federal funding designated for comprehensive sex education. According to Fox’s Gretchen Carlson and her two co-hosts, the sequester must not have had a serious impact on the federal government since it’s still able to find $350 million to fund “Planned Parenthood-style” sex ed classes in public school — an amount that Fox suggests would be better served by funding White House tours for the next 100 years:
CARLSON: Here is a story you may scratch your head over, because it’s our daily edition of “what sequester?” The federal government is spending apparently $350 million for Planned Parenthood-style sex education programs in western states, including Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, for sex education programs starting now in kindergarten. […]
STEVE DOOCY: It’s so shocking because we remember the sequester, it was all about it’s going to end everything, we’ll have to close the White House tours, we’ll have to close some small airport towers and things like that. So they did that, and a whole other list of things. Yet, they’re still able to find $350 million for this program that is comprehensive and graphic. And essentially what it does is it talks about how no sex is unsafe unless it causes pregnancy. […]
ERIC BOLLING: Now we find another $350 million is going to this program for kids as low as five years old. It’s absolutely insane. $350 million, do you know how long that would keep the white house tours going? 100 years! The White House could be open for as long as us and our grandchildren would be around. Instead, they’re going to learn — I don’t even want to know what they’re teaching them.
STEVE DOOCY: Well, no type of sex is wrong. The only unsafe behavior is getting pregnant. That’s what it’s all about. $350 million!
Cable news has been obsessed with the sequester’s impact on White House tours. But it’s unclear where the Fox hosts’ $350 million number is coming from. Federal funding to support comprehensive, evidence-based sexual education programs comes from several different sources: discretionary funding awarded to President Obama’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, grants under Obamacare’s Personal Responsibility Education Program, and funding for the Centers for Disease Control to continue its HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns.
Planned Parenthood affiliates may apply for those federal grants to implement voluntary sexual education programs in public schools, which typically include resources to encourage at-risk youth to use contraception, maintain healthy relationships, and lower their risk of STDs and pregnancy. But the federal government does not actually have any requirements that sex ed classes must operate in a “Planned Parenthood style.” In fact, there are no federal guidelines whatsoever requiring school districts to teach evidence-based sex ed courses — and the states that choose not to do so are the same states that have high rates of teenage pregnancies and STDs.