Understanding Abstinence Only Until Marriage Programs

From the mid-1990s through the first decade of the 21st century, abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs gained popularity in many states largely because federal funding encouraged their use.


Since 2010, additional federal funding has been available to support evidence-based programs to address adolescent pregnancy prevention and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) prevention. Despite these advances, AOUM ideology continues to dominate in many states and communities, and federal policy makers in Congress continue to insist on funding these ineffective and discriminatory programs.


Any advocate for medically-accurate and inclusive sexuality education must be able to explain to the average citizen why such programs are a waste of taxpayer dollars.


This section provides background information on AOUM programs, common characteristics of these programs, and a brief explanation of federal funding. It also explains why such programs run counter to the goals of comprehensive sexuality education, the available scientific research, the advice of public health professionals, and most importantly, the well-being of our young people.