Tim Kaine’s Sex Education Position

by Abby Johnston

While Democrats are often perceived as unified in their support of all areas that fall under the umbrella of reproductive rights that's not actually the case. Nuances and schisms over limits on both abortion term limits and parental consents requirements occur even within the Democratic party. Another area that not all Democrats agree on, very much related to reproductive rights, is sexual education. In fact, it seems that even Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are divided on abstinence-only education.

One of the perils of politics is reading too much into the shifting views of the candidates over a large period of time. Opinions on some things form over the years (or, in the case of Donald Trump, can evolve and then devolve over the course of a few hours) and with experience, so in some instances, it’s not necessarily helpful to take one thing that a candidate said two decades ago as gospel.

For example, Clinton has, in the past, had what some would consider problematic views on sex. As The Atlantic pointed out, in her 1996 book, It Takes A Village, the then-first lady promoted abstinence from premarital sex, and in 2005, she told a group of family planning activists that “research shows that the primary reason that teenage girls abstain is because of their religious and moral values. We should embrace this—and support programs that reinforce the idea that abstinence at a young age is not just the smart thing to do, it is the right thing to do.” That sounds like a far cry from the Clinton who has worked on legislation to support sex education and birth control for teens, and who pushes hard for access to women’s health.


I’ll let Clinton’s overall record speak for itself, but Kaine’s does, too. Vox's Emily Crockett noted that in 2005, Kaine campaigned for governor of Virginia, promising to reduce abortions and focus on abstinence-focused sex ed, which caused NARAL Pro-Choice America to decline to endorse the candidate.

In 2007, though, he reneged on that promise by cutting off funds for abstinence-only education, citing research that showed that it didn’t work. Although it’s heartening that a politician actually relied on facts to pivot on one of his key campaign issues, it’s still a completely different situation than Clinton.

Yes, Clinton made some surprising comments about abstinence, but she never directly sponsored legislation that promoted abstinence-only education, rather just saying she thought it was a good idea. Kaine, however, made it a platform of his campaign for governor, indicating that he was ready to sign off on legislation that would promote it. Although he’s proved that he can face the facts, Kaine’s history with abstinence-only education is undeniably shaky.