Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Peddler Given High Level Position in Trump Administration

The Trump Administration continues its Orwellian crusade to ensure that important positions in government are filled by those who actively oppose the mission of the office. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has demonstrated an alarming lack of knowledge of education policy, and  Attorney General Jeff Sessions is working to deny justice to LGBT people and people of color.  EPA head Scott Pruitt has enthusiastically endangered the environment. And now, Valerie Huber, one of the nation’s lead crusaders for abstinence-only programs which deny lifesaving information about the health benefits of condoms and contraception to young people, has been appointed to the team which oversees a number of public health offices, including the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH).

Huber has a long history of pushing these stereotypical, ineffective, and misleading “just-say-no” programs. She began as the administrator of abstinence-only programs for the state of Ohio, and moved on to head the National Abstinence Education Association, now known as Ascend.  In both of these positions she worked to ensure that young people are denied their right to honest sex education. She has called for the defunding of the OAH’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention program, claiming that its more comprehensive approach, one that includes information about abstinence AND contraception, harms students.


“It’s now standard operating procedure in the Trump Administration to appoint foxes to guard the henhouse. And Huber is one sly fox – stealthily changing the marketing of abstinence-only programs over the years to hide their true messages and obfuscate the damage they cause,” said Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth.  “But we know that it’s the same, old, damaging rhetoric. Whether they call these programs abstinence-only or sexual risk avoidance their central tenet is to use fear, shame and lies to keep young people from learning the information and skills they need to take personal responsibility for their sexual health as they mature.”

Some examples of the sorts of activities in the programs Valerie Huber has defended for these many years:

  • Equating sexually active students with chewed gum, used tape, a cut up paper heart, or a cup of spit
  • Teaching girls that “too many opinions will lessen a man’s confidence”
  • Asking students to envision their future, and mandating an opposite-sex spouse for the exercise
  • Telling students that “girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.”

Frankly, it’s alarming that someone like Ms. Huber, who has devoted her career to withholding lifesaving information from young people, is in charge of any aspect of young people’s health. But it is par for the course with this Administration, which has also requested to continue funding for abstinence-only programs in their federal budget.

“It is the height of absurdity that this administration’s budget includes funding for abstinence-only until marriage or “just say no” sex education programs when Trump himself has boasted about his premarital and extramarital affairs.  A man who feels entitled to grope women without their permission, and a woman who supports the views expressed in one abstinence-only until marriage program–that men are like microwaves, they can’t help but heat up rapidly, while women are more like crock pots and therefore have all the responsibility to keep the men in check–perhaps deserve one another.

But young people deserve better.  

No government money should be allocated to these “just say no” programs, and no one with Valerie Huber’s views should have input into our government’s approaches to youth health.  Young people have the right to lead healthy lives and we should be giving them the tools they need to protect their health – including honest sex education.