Illustration: Jed Morfit

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Thanks to a well-publicized congressional investigation, we now know that federally funded abstinence curricula are riddled with scientific errors, half-truths, and outright lies. So what are students and taxpayers getting for $170 million a year? If the following lessons are any indication, overwrought metaphors, laughable lists, and a lesson in Russian roulette.

 

“Hold up a beautiful rose. Talk about the petals and how they add color and fragrance to the rose. Hand the rose to a student, telling that student to pull off a petal and pass it on to another student who also pulls off a petal. Continue passing the rose around until there are no more petals. At the end, hold up the rose. Ask: Of what value is the rose now?… The rose represents someone who participates in casual sex.”
Choosing the Best PATH

 

“No matter how strong a condom is, it won’t protect you from a broken heart.”
A.C. Green’s Game Plan

 

“The first player spins the cylinder, points the gun to his/her head, and pulls the trigger. He/she has only a one in six chance of being killed. But if one continues to perform this act, the chamber with the bullet will ultimately fall into position, and the game ends as one of the players dies. Relying on condoms is like playing Russian roulette.”
Me, My World, My Future

 

“Watch what you wear, if you don’t aim to please, don’t aim to tease.”
Sex Respect

 

“Infertility, isolation, jealousy, poverty, heartbreak, substance abuse, AIDS, pregnancy, cervical cancer, genital herpes, unstable long-term commitments, depression, embarrassment, meaningless wedding, sexual violence, personal disappointment, suicide, feelings of being used, loss of honesty, loneliness, loss of personal goals, distrust of others, pelvic inflammatory disease, loss of reputation, fear of pregnancy, disappointed parents, loss of self-esteem, leaving high school before graduation…. ALL of them can be eliminated by being abstinent until marriage.”
Choosing the Best PATH

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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