Bernie Sanders had this to say about abstinence-only education: "I am a United States senator who believes in science and who believes in facts. I know that's a radical idea nowadays."
It kind of is.
Sex education in the United States is a mess. As it stands, 23 states mandate sex ed, but many states have laws regulating curriculum. Only 18 states require teachers to provide information about contraception, and only 13 states require that the information taught in sex education be medically accurate. A total of 37 states require abstinence education, and 25 states require that abstinence be stressed as the preferred method of STI and pregnancy prevention.
This state-level shitshow has consequences. While STI rates and unintended pregnancies aren't the kind of thing you can peg to a single indicator, there is a lot of data (like a lot of data) that links a lack of access to medically accurate, comprehensive sex education to things such as high rates of chlamydia and unplanned teen pregnancy.
Last year Congress quietly approved an increase to federal funds supporting abstinence-only education; so right now there is more money than ever being fed into programs that teach medical inaccuracies and stigma, including this nugget of bad advice: "sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."
Sanders had a different approach at the debate.
"We should explain biology and sexuality to our kids on a factual basis," Sanders said. "Period."