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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Christian Fundamentalists Working to Replace Sex Education with Religious Dogma

Below on this page: State-by-state reports | March 2007: Study finds abstinence-only sex ed doesn't stop kids from having sex | March 2007: Comprehensive Sex Education Bill Reintroduced | Bush abstinence czar Wade Horn | New Congress expected to revisit Republican emphasis on "Abstinence Only" | In the News -- Challenging Abstinence-only | Bush administration told it must not lie about condoms' effectiveness | Government documents show abstinence-only programs mislead young people | Abstinence-only "education" pushed by Bush administration, religious right | Religious right "Silver Ring Thing" loses federal abstinence-only funding | State-by-state reports

State-by-state reports on sex education are here.

House Passes Children's Health Insurance Bill That Would Extend Abstinence Education Program for Two Years

Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, KaiserNetwork.org, August 2, 2007

The House on Wednesday voted 225-204 to approve a bill (HR 3162) that would reauthorize and expand SCHIP and also make revisions to Medicare, the New York Times reports. The bill also would extend a federal abstinence education program for two years and fund it at $50 million annually, CQ Today reports. Continue.

Bush Promises to Veto Bill That Could Fund Sex Ed in California

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS (San Diego public radio station), August 2, 2007

California has refused to take federal money to teach abstinence-only education. But a House bill to extend funding for these programs might cause California to change its mind. KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

The bill would allow states to use the money for abstinence-only classes, or for more comprehensive sex education programs that also promote abstinence.

The measure would also require programs to show results in reducing pregnancy and HIV rates.

That might be a problem for abstinence-only programs. That's according to UCLA professor of psychiatry Mary Jane Rotheram. Continue.

Planned Parenthood Applauds House For Supporting Children and Women’s Health
Bill Expands Basic Health Care Services, and Provides States with the Option to Expand Family Planning Services and Provide Real Sex Education

News release, Planned Parenthood via Common Dreams, August 3, 2007

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 3 - Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the nation's leading reproductive health care advocate and provider, today applauded members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted in support of the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP). This wide-ranging health care bill will provide millions of low-income children and adults with health insurance, and it contains several key family planning provisions, including new restrictions on federal abstinence-only funding and a state option to expand access to real sex education. Continue.

House Bill Guts Abstinence Education, Pro-Life Provision
Democrats sneak destructive measures into children's health legislation.

by Jennifer Mesko, Focus on the Family, August 1, 2007

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill to reauthorize the federal health program for children. But tucked into H.R. 3162 are two dangerous provisions — one that could lead to more state-funded abortions and one that essentially hands abstinence funding over to Planned Parenthood.

In 2002, the Bush administration issued a regulation that defined a "child" as being from conception to 18 years of age, a regulation that is known as the "unborn child rule." This regulation allowed states the option of covering the health care of the preborn child and has the benefit of covering the pregnant woman's health care as well. Continue.

Democrats say they will end abstinence-only funding

by Philip Turner, Medill Reports (Northwestern University Graduate School of Journalism) , May 18, 2007

WASHINGTON - - Leading House Democrats say they will pull the plug on abstinence-only education when a $50 million grant expires on June 30 – a move sparking outrage among social conservative groups.

“As the House works to eliminate abstinence funding, their solution is simple - - provide more pills that prevent and abort pregnancies,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. Continue.

March 2007: Comprehensive Sex Education Bill Reintroduced

The Right Is Wrong About Sex Education

Eleanor Levie, Opinion article, The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, September 2007. Eleanor Levie is a national board member of the National Council of Jewish Women.

It is back to school time, and at far too many public secondary schools, that means it is also back to the dark ages of promoting ignorance and religious rhetoric instead of factual information about human sexuality. In many pockets of Pennsylvania, as in the nation, schools are failing our teens. Failing to provide accurate information about life. Failing to keep them safe from AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Failing to teach comprehensive sexuality education.

Concerned teachers and parents whisper horror stories — always on conditions of anonymity. A teacher from Philadelphia where middle school students are overwhelmingly poor, African American, and reading below grade level, spoke about girls offering oral sex for a dollar, at the movies and even on the playground. Affluent kids reading at or above grade level may be just as likely to fall victim to ignorance and peer pressure. One suburban mother told of her 13-year-old son confiding of bar mitzvah party “gifts” of oral sex, and relaying his own personal misconceptions, such as “taking daily showers will keep me safe from STDs.” Continue. --

Democrats Compromise on Abstinence-Only Funding; Title X Increase

By Amie Newman, RH Reality Check Blog, June 8, 2007

Yesterday, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations voted to increase federal funding for community based abstinence-only education programs (CBAE) in this country by an almost unprecedented $27.8 million, "despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs it supports do not work" according to a press release from SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States).

In 2006, the committee approved a bill that would keep funding for abstinence-only programs steady but did not increase the amount.

In fact, just last month, the government released a report commissioned on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services outlining clear evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs do not delay sexual activity at a significant rate for young people, and do not result in higher rates of abstinence than their peers who are taught medically accurate, fact-based sexuality education.

So, what happened? Continue.

House Subcommittee Increases Abstinence Funding
Compromise Saves Key Program, but Boosts Planned Parenthood Role.

By Jennifer Mesko, Focus on the Family, June 8, 2007

In a about-face, a Democratic-led House committee voted Thursday to increase funding for a key abstinence-education program.The Community Based Abstinence Education program (CBAE) is set to receive $141 million for fiscal year 2008. That's more than President Bush requested ($137 million) and more than in FY 2007 ($109 million).The action, although promising, still must face the full House, where it could be struck or amended. Another source of federal funding, Title V, which allocates $50 million for abstinence education, is still set to expire at the end of this month."We are cautiously optimistic with this preliminary decision," said Linda Klepacki, sexual health analyst for Focus on the Family Action. "This allocation of funds would continue to provide our schoolchildren with the primary public health message of abstinence-until-marriage education."Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association applauded the vote, telling The Washington Times that abstinence education "is a public health message that deserves to be continued." Continue.

Comprehensive sex education bill reintroduced in Congress

Advocate.com, March 23, 2007

Members of Congress reintroduced a bill Thursday that would provide grants for comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education. Currently the federal government is slated to spend more than $1 billion in abstinence-only sex education through 2008, which neglects to educate about homosexuality, same-sex marriage, or birth control. Meanwhile, federal funding is denied to institutions that provide comprehensive sex education.

The Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act is sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee of California, Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and would grant $206 million per year to states for comprehensive sex education. Continue.

New Congress expected to revisit Republican emphasis on "Abstinence Only"

Premarital Sex is Nearly Universal Among Americans, and Has Been for Decades

News release, Guttmacher Institute, December 19, 2006

The vast majority of Americans have sex before marriage, including those who abstained from sex during their teenage years, according to "Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954 - 2003," by Lawrence B. Finer, published in the January/February 2007 issue of Public Health Reports. Further, contrary to the public perception that premarital sex is much more common now than in the past, the study shows that even among women who were born in the 1940s, nearly nine in 10 had sex before marriage.

The new study uses data from several rounds of the federal National Survey of Family Growth to examine sexual behavior before marriage, and how it has changed over time. According to the analysis, by age 44, 99% of respondents had had sex, and 95% had done so before marriage. Even among those who abstained from sex until age 20 or older, 81% had had premarital sex by age 44. Continue

Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954­–2003

Lawrence B. Finer, Guttmacher Institute, Public Health Reports, January/February 2007

This PDF document is the full report cited in the news release above. Click here.

‘95 percent’ premarital sex survey is connected to Planned Parenthood

By Erin Roach, Baptist Press, December 22, 2006

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--One of the most popular news stories circulating in recent days is a study by the Guttmacher Institute in New York that says 95 percent of Americans have had premarital sex. But there’s more to the story than is being reported.

“It would be more forthright for the Guttmacher Institute to mention in its reports that it is the research arm for Planned Parenthood,” Richard Ross, founder of the True Love Waits abstinence movement, told Baptist Press. “Corporate profits and staff salaries at Planned Parenthood depend on abortion services. Continue.

Focus on the Family Questions Guttmacher Study
Premarital Sex Common, but Not Advised

News Release, Focus on the Family, December 21, 2006

Focus on the Family's "sexual health" analysit charged that the Guttmacher Institute study "is the condom cartel's attempt at normalizing out-of-wedlock sexual behavior. This is one in a series of documents that is designed to set the battle lines for January's congressional battles over sex education." Click here.

Agenda Clear in Premarital Sex Survey
Pro-family experts dispute findings, conclusions of report that seeks to normalize unhealthy sexual behavior.

Wendy Cloyd, Focus on the Family, December 21, 2006

Family advocates are questioning the results of -- and the agenda behind -- a survey released this week by the Guttmacher Institute claiming that 95 percent of Americans have engaged in sex outside of marriage.

The study, published in Public Health Reports, purported to examine how sexual behavior before marriage has changed over time. It is based on interviews with more than 38,000 people over two decades for the federal National Survey of Family Growth. Continue

March 2007: Study finds abstinence-only sex ed doesn't stop kids from having sex

Study: Abstinence programs no guarantee

Associated Press, CNN via Health Resource Info (blog), April 14, 2007

Washington (AP) -- Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes that were reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex at about the same age as other students -- 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have repeatedly said they don't believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement. Continue.

Study: Abstinence classes don't stop sex

Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY, April 16, 2007

Students who participated in programs to discourage sex before marriage didn't hold off any longer than peers who didn't participate in such programs, finds a longterm study authorized by Congress.

Those who participated in the four "abstinence-only" program studied had sex about the same age -- 14 years and nine months -- as those in their communities who didn't have any specialized abstinence education, and had similar numbers of sex partners, says the $7.7 million study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. of Princeton, N.J. for the U.S. Administration for Children and Families.

"We have a lot of information about what people know and intend. The real question is what they do," said Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, who served on an outside advisory panel for the evaluation process. "None of the four programs were successful in raising the age of first intercourse at all." Continue

Impacts of Four Abstinence Education Programs

Mathematica Policy Research, mid-April 2007

A recent study of four abstinence education programs, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., finds that the programs had no effect on the sexual abstinence of youth. But it also finds that youth in these programs were no more likely to have unprotected sex, a concern that has been raised by some critics of these programs.

The study, conducted for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was authorized by Congress in 1997 to evaluate the effectiveness of programs funded under Title V, Section 510 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Nationwide, more than 700 Title V, Section 510 programs receive up to $50 million annually from the federal government in order to teach youth about abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage. Additional funding from state matching block grants brings annual spending for Title V, Section 510 sexual abstinence education programs to $87.5 million.

The study found that youth in the four evaluated programs were no more likely than youth not in the programs to have abstained from sex in the four to six years after they began participating in the study. Youth in both groups who reported having had sex also had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same average age. Continue.

CWA Says Study Debunking Abstinence is Flawed

News release, Concerned Women for America, April 13, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 13 /Christian Newswire/ -- A just-released report claims that abstinence programs are ineffective. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., is a Washington-based think tank that blatantly states that their research is conducted in order to "support decisions" about "social policy problems." Clearly, their report on abstinence programs is timed to affect funding.

Their findings are flawed and raise questions in two separate areas. Continue.

The Medical Institute Responds to Mathematica Abstinence Sex Ed Report

News release, The Medical Intitute (Not the Institute of Medicine), April 13, 2007

AUSTIN, Texas, April 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Medical Institute responded to the "Impact of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs" final report released earlier today by Mathematica Policy Research Inc., affirming that the report did not call for de-funding of abstinence programs but simply advocated further study.

The Mathematica report does not support a conclusion that abstinence education programs should no longer be funded," said Gary Rose, M.D., president and CEO of The Medical Institute. "To the contrary, the report specifically indicates that programs should continue with changes where necessary to make them more effective, particularly 'promoting support for abstinence among peer networks' as an important feature." Continue.

In the News -- Challenging Abstinence-only

States abstain from federal sex-ed funds
More are refusing grants to teach chastity, objecting to restrictions.

P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2007

In an emerging revolt against abstinence-only sex education, states are turning down millions of dollars in federal grants, unwilling to accept White House dictates that the money be used for classes focused almost exclusively on teaching chastity.

In Ohio, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland said that regardless of the state's sluggish economic picture, he didn't see the point in taking part in the controversial State Abstinence Education Program anymore.

Five other states -- Wisconsin, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana and New Jersey -- have dropped out of that grant program or plan to do so by the end of this year. California has refused all along to participate in the program, which is managed by a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services. Continue.

Challenging the "Luxury" of Abstinence

by Haider Rizvi, Inter Press Service via Common Dreams, December 1, 2006

NEW YORK - While there is no indication that the George W. Bush administration is willing to roll back its current restrictions on funding for HIV/AIDS, it may find it difficult to maintain the status quo when Democrats take charge of the U.S. Congress in January.

With increasing pressure from women groups, religious organisations and health advocacy groups, Democratic lawmakers seem ready to challenge the notion that abstinence from sex until marriage is the best way to combat AIDS at home and abroad.

"We will see a strong effort this year," said Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of her plans to introduce new legislation to remove "abstinence only" conditions on HIV/AIDS funding. Continue.

First consensus guidelines offered for schools on sexual orientation
News release: First Amendment framework suggested to help educators, parents, students find ‘common ground’

First Amendment Center, March 13, 2006

WASHINGTON — The first consensus guidelines created to help educators, students and parents develop local policies and practices to address issues involving sexual orientation in public schools were announced today by the First Amendment Center. Continue..

Bush abstinence czar Wade Horn

The Abstinence Gluttons

By Michael Reynolds, The Nation, May 31, 2007 (June 18, 2007 issue)

Over the past six years George W. Bush's faith-based Administration and a conservative Republican Congress transformed the small-time abstinence-only business into a billion-dollar industry. These dangerously ineffective sexual health enterprises flourish not because they spread "family values" but because of generous helpings of the same pork-heavy gumbo Bush & Co. brought to war-blighted Iraq and Katrina-hammered New Orleans--a mix of back-scratching cronyism, hefty partisan campaign donations, high-dollar lobbyists, a revolving door for political appointees and a lack of concern for results.

One of the chief cooks is a media-shy 63-year-old Catholic multimillionaire, welfare privatizer and Republican donor named Raymond Ruddy. With close ties to the White House, federal health officials and Republican power brokers that date back to W.'s days as Texas governor, Ruddy has leveraged his generous wallet and insider muscle to push an ultraconservative social agenda, enrich a preferred network of abstinence-only and antiabortion groups, boost profits for his company and line the pockets of his cronies--all with taxpayer dollars.

Following the money swirling around Ruddy offers an eye-opening glimpse into the squalor at the heart of the abstinence-only project. One top Bush adviser left to take a job at Ruddy's charity, Gerard Health Foundation, and a senior officer at Ruddy's for-profit company, Maximus, left to take a top-level position at the Department of Health and Human Services. Leaders of Christian-right organizations that are Gerard grantees have gained advisory HHS positions--and their organizations have in turn received AIDS and abstinence grants to the tune of at least $25 million. Maximus itself has raked in more than $100 million in federal contracts during the Bush era. Continue.

Wade Leaps

By cyncooper, Talk2Action.org, April 3, 2007

Wade Horn resigned as Assistant Secretary of Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services yesterday, and effective this weekend. I wrote about Horn in "Hand That Feeds" onTalk2Action a few weeks ago. Horn is a go-to guy for the Religious Right but he always seemed to get a free pass from the media. I focused a recent grant his department gave for $1 million to an organization that he founded, the National Fatherhood Initiative.

There were other questionable grants by Horn -- giving money to reporters to write articles, funding a group on whose board he had been seated. He oversaw the failed abstinence program, and set up "Responsible Fatherhood," which sounded identical to the right-wing pet project he previously ran. On the rare occasions when explanations were sought, they sounded absurd but never attracted much attention. Continue.

Blowing the Whistle on Wade Horn

Jeff Sharlet, The Revealer, March 4, 2007

A high-ranking cabinet official in charge of $47 billion in funds decides to toss a million bucks to an organization he started in his kitchen. Said organization espouses radically controversial views disputed by many scientists. Sound like a story? It's not. At least, not in the press. Assistant Secretary of Health Wade Horn has been on the radar of religious right watchers for years now, but he just doesn't register with the press despite views on fatherhood and child-rearing -- which, as Assistant Secretary of Children and Families, he has some influence on -- that are controversial by any definition, and inappropriate for a government official by most. To wit: a proposal to limit Head Start programs to the children of married couples, and his assertion that wives should "submit" to their husbands. Continue.

Just say no to forced ideology

Roberta deBoer, Toledo Blade, April 8, 2007

The man we could have called the nation's Abstinence Czar quit last week.

Wade Horn resigned Monday as assistant secretary for children and families, a post from which he had oversight over all sorts of faith-based projects, including abstinence-only sex ed.

During his tenure, there were huge funding increases for abstinence-only sex education (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one). For such teachings, we've been spending upwards of $200 million annually (although it's hard to defend dogma as "teaching") Continue

Hand That Feeds

By cyncooper, Talk2Action.org, March 3, 2007

Wade Horn has been very kind to Religious Right organizations, including the one that he founded in 1994 with Religious Right money -- the National Fatherhood Initiative in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Appointed by President Bush as Assistant Secretary for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services, Horn oversees an annual budget of 47 billion dollars. Horn has shown that he knows all about the hand that feeds, and now, he has taken care to feed the National Fatherhood Initiative with a "Capacities Building" grant in the amount of $999,534 from a program he started in his agency and called by the familiar-ringing name of the "Responsible Fatherhood Initiative." Continue.

SECTION: National Battle over Sex Education Waged in Suburban Maryland County

In 2004, major national fundamentalist Christian groups have been fighting to control the sex education curriculum of the Montgomery County, Maryland school district in suburban Washington, DC. Click here for more.

Bush administration told it must not lie about condoms' effectiveness

B-308128, Abstinence Education:
Applicability of Section 317P of the Public Health Service Act

Government Accountability Office, Opinion B-308128, October 18, 2006

The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services...Dear Mr. Secretary:

In responding to a congressional request on federal abstinence education grant programs, we identified a legal matter that requires the attention of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this regard, section 317P(c)(2) of the Public Health Service Act[1] requires certain educational materials to contain medically accurate information about condom effectiveness. HHS believes that this statute does not apply to materials prepared and used by recipients of federal abstinence education grants. As discussed below, we conclude that this requirement would apply to abstinence education materials prepared and used by federal grant recipients, depending upon the substantive content of those materials. Continue.

GAO Pokes Holes In Bush Condom Advice

by The Associated Press, 365Gay.com, October 23, 2006

(Washington) Government auditors reminded the Bush administration Thursday that literature distributed by federally funded abstinence programs must contain medically accurate information about condoms' effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Continue

Government documents show abstinence-only programs mislead young people

Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Programs Teach False And Misleading Information

From the website of the House Committee on Government Reform Minority Office:

"Wednesday, December 01, 2004 -- Under the Bush Administration, federal support for "abstinence-only" education programs has expanded rapidly. The federal government will spend approximately $170 million on abstinence-only education programs in fiscal year 2005, more than twice the amount spent in fiscal year 2001. As a result, abstinence-only education, which promotes abstinence from sexual activity without teaching basic facts about contraception, now reaches millions of children and adolescents each year.

"At the request of Rep. Henry Waxman, this report evaluates the content of the most popular abstinence-only curricula used by grantees of the largest federal abstinence initiative, SPRANS (Special Programs of Regional and National Significance Community-Based Abstinence Education). Through SPRANS, the Department of Health and Human Services provides grants to community organizations that teach abstinence-only curricula to youth. The curricula used in SPRANS and other federally funded programs are not reviewed for accuracy by the federal government.

"The report finds that over 80% of the abstinence-only curricula, used by over two-thirds of SPRANS grantees in 2003, contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health."

  • Click here for the report (a PDF document).
  • Click here to read a PDF-format letter supporting the report from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • A news release on the report. (PDF)
  • Click here to go to the Committee Minority's page on investigations related to abstinence "education."

Abstinence-only "education" pushed by Bush administration, religious right

Sex Ed and HIV Prevention Education in U.S. Schools 'Fiercely Politicized' and 'Highly Problematic,' Article Says

Kaisernetwork.org Daily Reports, December 22, 2006

Sex education and HIV prevention education in U.S. schools is a "heated, fiercely politicized debate" that "remains highly problematic," according to the monthly HIV/AIDS magazine POZ. Continue.

ABSTINENCE EDUCATION
Efforts to Assess the Accuracy and Effectiveness of Federally Funded Programs

United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Requesters, October 2006, GAO-07-87

What GAO Found
Efforts to Assess the Accuracy and Effectiveness of Federally Funded Programs Efforts by HHS and states to assess the scientific accuracy of materials used in abstinence-until-marriage education programs have been limited. This is because HHS’s ACF—which awards grants to two programs that account for the largest portion of federal spending on abstinence-until-marriage education—does not review its grantees’ education materials for scientific accuracy and does not require grantees of either program to review their own materials for scientific accuracy. In contrast, OPA does review the scientific accuracy of grantees’ proposed educational materials. In addition, not all states that receive funding from ACF have chosen to review their program materials for scientific accuracy. In particular, 5 of the 10 states that GAO contacted conduct such reviews. Officials from these states reported using a variety of approaches in their reviews. While the extent to which federally funded abstinence-until-marriage education materials are inaccurate is not known, in the course of their reviews OPA and some states reported that they have found inaccuracies in abstinence-until-marriage education materials. For example, one state official described an instance in which abstinence-until-marriage materials incorrectly suggested that HIV can pass through condoms because the latex used in condoms is porous. Continue.

Abstinence message goes beyond teens

By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY, October 31, 2006

The federal government's "no sex without marriage" message isn't just for kids anymore. Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it's a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

"They've stepped over the line of common sense," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. "To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health." Continue.

Most Americans disapprove of abstinence-only sex education

The Advocate, November 08, 2006

Most Americans, regardless of their political leanings, favor comprehensive sex education in schools over abstinence-only programs, researchers reported Monday.

Currently the federal government champions the abstinence-only approach, giving around $170 million each year to states and community groups to teach just-say-no sex education. This funding precludes mention of birth control and condoms, unless it's to emphasize their failure rates.

However, critics point out that studies have failed to show that abstinence-only education delays sex or lowers rates of teen pregnancy. Continue

The Abstinence Shtick, Minus Jesus
Assembly Attended by 1,000 Students Watched Warily by ACLU

By Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post, October 13, 2006

Christian comedian Keith Deltano did a lot of things at Loudoun County High School yesterday to encourage teenagers to stay away from sex. He sang bad hip-hop, told stories about oozing diapers, read from a government report on how condoms can fail and waved a cinder block over one unfortunate male student's genital zone.

But he never once talked about Jesus. Although he often delivers one-liners tailored to his faith, Deltano gave a routine expunged of religion to more than 1,000 students at the public high school in Leesburg. Continue.

Sex-Ed Advocates Tell Congress to Abandon Abstinence Ed
Democrats introduce a bill to cut funding for purity.

Focus on the Family, June 14, 2006

Comprehensive sex-education advocates were on Capitol Hill Tuesday to tell members of Congress their view of abstinence-until-marriage education.

The centerpiece of their testimony was a paper by Dr. John Santelli that concluded "abstinence-only as a basis for health policy and programs should be abandoned." Santelli also told Congress it's unethical to base sex education on a moral standard. Continue

Sex, Science, and Static
Pro-abstinence politics meddles with a CDC conference.

By Amanda Schaffer, Slate, May 5, 2006

The upcoming National STD Prevention Conference, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other groups, has just been given an unhealthy shot of ideology. The conference was supposed to include a symposium designed to explore how abstinence-only sex education may undermine other efforts to reduce STDs. The papers and panelists had gone through the customary vetting of peer review. But now the symposium has been abruptly retooled to include two proponents of abstinence programs—and to exclude a well-respected detractor. This is bad news, not only because abstinence-only work is scientifically unfounded but also because the switch represents a new level of government intrusion into the peer-review process of a major scientific meeting. Continue

Health Experts Criticize Changes in STD Panel

By Rob Stein, The Washington Post, May 9, 2006

"The decision was praised by supporters of abstinence programs and the congressman who raised questions about the panel, but it was condemned by public health experts as political meddling because the new presentations had not been approved through a scientific peer-review process." Click for the report

CDC Pressured To Drop Abstinence Foe & Include Supporter At STD Conference

by 365Gay.com, May 8, 2006

(Washington) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has bowed to pressure from a Republican congressman to include two abstinence-only proponents to a federal panel on STDs, bypassing the scientific approval process according to a published report. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind) the chair of the House subcommittee on drug policy accused the CDC of including only opponents of abstinence programs on the panel to be held Tuesday at the National STD Prevention Conference in Jacksonville, Fla. Continue

CDC Conference Snubs Abstinence

Focus on the Family, May 9, 2006

"A national conference on preventing sexually transmitted diseases that is being held this week in Florida and backed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conspicuously lacked any mention of abstinence education -- until a member of Congress complained." That member was Mark Sounder, Republican of Indiana. His staffer, Marc Wheat, attacked the CDC staff scientists: "These are career, liberal staff that cannot be dynamited out of their jobs," he said. "They cannot be fired for almost any action. And so it's very difficult to monitor what they do." Click here

Rev. Moon's Conjugal Visitations

By John Gorenfeld, AlterNet, April 17, 2006

This report on the importance to the religious right of Sun Myung Moon, who calls himself a messiah, starts jocularly: "We all know the religious Right wants to tell us what we can't do in the bedroom, but no one asks what they want us to do instead." But then it notes that Moon-linked pastors have won nearly $1 million in federal grants for teaching Moon's extremist brand of abstinence-only sex education. A Moon program, Free Teens USA, has federal funding for a program in New Jersey. After informing us of this and more, Gorenfeld does, in fact, describe Moon-sanctioned sex acts, which are, if not downright funny, certainly less grotesque than such Moon statements as "Woman's sexual organ is like the open mouth of a snake filled with poison." Click here

Abstinence-Only Only Gets Worse

by Amy Bryant, Planned Parenthood's Choice Magazine via PoliticalPollution.org, April 13, 2006

On January 26, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would continue to fund Community-Based Abstinence Education programs, further restricting the sexuality education of America's young people.

Like past years' decisions to continue funding for abstinence-only education, this recent announcement, which introduces a new set of guidelines, emerges not from logic or evidence, but from extreme right-wing ideology. Continue

Sex-Ed Programs Under Scrutiny

Citizen Link (Focus on the Family) April 3, 2006

Twenty-one members of Congress are asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether the government should continue to fund comprehensive sex education programs, according to Focus on the Family. The group terms the sex-ed programs "condom-based" and "condom-promoting...programs that encourage sexual activity." Click here

Abstinence-Only Programs May Withhold Valuable Health Information

By Katrina Woznicki, MedPage Today, January 6, 2006

This review of a study in the Journal of Adolescent Medicine on a website serving physicians covers many aspects of "abstinence only" sex education, including polls showing extremely low parental support for the policy. The review notes that "While parents appear supportive of teaching their children both abstinence and ways to protect against STDs and pregnancy, current government policies appear to suggest that there is no room for sexual health information in abstinence-only education. They also noted that many faith-based organizations are receiving increased funding to promote an abstinence-only message." Click here to go to the review.

Government urged to end abstinence-only education

By Cheryl Wetzstein, Washington Times, January 6, 2006

Religious right abstinence advocates disparage the report by the Society of Adolescent Medicine. Click here to read the report.

California poll finds strong support for sex education

By Patricia Yollin, San Francisco Chronicle, January 5, 2006

"As Californians proliferate with rabbit-like efficiency, the state's residents are surprisingly of one mind about how to deal with overpopulation. Whether they're liberal Democrats or evangelical Christians, they favor sex education and access by the young to birth control." Click here to read the report.

Abstinence-only sex ed is ethically indefensible

By Katrina Karkazis, San Francisco Chronicle, January 12, 2006

"Human-rights concerns and principles emphasize bodily integrity; autonomy; freedom of and access to information; protection of physical integrity; the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and the highest attainable standard of health; and the right of individual and group to participate in issues affecting them, among others." Click here to read the report.

Religious right "Silver Ring Thing" loses federal abstinence-only funding

Click here to go to the section on faith-based funding for articles on the ACLU's settlement with the government that resulted in the suspension of funding for "Silver Ring Thing" which delivered a religious pitch along with its abstinence only message.  

Alabama

Public school students getting abstinence lessons from church

By Greg Garrison, The Birmingham News, February 04, 2007

Midway through a classroom discussion of sexually transmitted diseases, one seventh-grader at Center Street Middle School raised her hand to ask a question.

"So what's the difference between gonorrhea and chlamydia?" the 12-year-old girl said.

Kelli Clarke, a facilitator for New Hope Baptist Church's Birmingham Abstinence Education Program, went to consult a reference text.

"It's very hard to tell the difference," said Clarke, whose father is New Hope's pastor, Gregory Clarke. "The symptoms are pretty much the same." Continue.

Arizona

Az Gov: Abstinence-Only Ed A Failure

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff, January 28, 2008

(Phoenix, Arizona) Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) is telling the Bush administration that the state does not want $1 million in federal funding for abstinence-only education because the programs don't work. The move makes Arizona the 16th state to reject the federal money. Continue.

California

Abstinence-only sex ed finds few scientific fans
Birth control taught in shrinking number of schools, study says

Mike Weiss, San Francisco Chronicle, February 11, 2007

There is no good scientific evidence that teaching abstinence to teenagers will by itself prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, say the authors of a recent study. Yet they found that comprehensive sex education is declining and that more youngsters are being taught nothing more than abstinence.

As with similar debates over stem cell research and abortion, California and the Bush administration are at loggerheads over an ethical issue with far-reaching public consequences -- in this case, the best approach to sex ed for middle and high school students.

More than $1 billion in federal aid has been poured into state-run abstinence-only programs in the past decade after the Bush administration decided there was an imbalance that favored comprehensive sex education and slighted abstinence. State school systems accepting the federal money are required to teach that sexual activity outside marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects, and that a married, monogamous relationship is the expected standard.

California is one of only three states -- the others are Maine and Pennsylvania -- to refuse the federal education funding tied to abstinence. Continue.

Florida

3 groups get money to promote abstinence Teen pregnancy rates have dropped

By Elena Lesley, St. Petersburg Times (Florida), The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy, October 17, 2006

Abstinence advocates have their work cut out for them.

"Every time kids turn on the TV or radio, they get a message: Go have sex," said Darla Huddleston of Life Choice Care Center.

But local abstinence educators were given a boost recently with a hefty federal grant. Three organizations in Central Florida will divide $423,000 annually for five years.

Huddleston said the group had applied for the grant, issued through the Health and Human Services Youth Services Bureau, two times before, but this was the first year that the organizations were successful. Continue.

Battle brewing over sex education in St. Lucie schools

By Margot Susca, The Treasure Coast Palm, October 13, 2006

FORT PIERCE -- Port St. Lucie pastor Bryan Longworth remembers his father presiding at the funeral of a man who died of AIDS and understands this community is in crisis.

St. Lucie County Schools Superintendent Michael Lannon reads the 2005 state statistics that show this area's dramatic HIV/AIDS infection rate -- 140.5 HIV cases per 100,000 population in blacks, 8.3 cases in whites, and 4.6 cases in Hispanics. And Lannon, like Longworth, finds himself using many of the same words to describe the problem. Continue.

Illinois: Chicago modifies abstinence-only

Sex ed to cover birth control
Abstinence will be city classes' focus

By David Mendell, The Chicago Tribune, April 27, 2006

In response to pressure from student activists, a statewide advocacy group, and 6,000 infants born to teen parents in the city in 2003, the Chicago school system will teach comprehensive sex education in grades 6 through 12. The Board of Education decided to devise a curriculum that emphasizes but is not limited to abstinence. Click for the report

Indiana: Abstinence-only

Abstinence-only undergoes scrutiny
Steady rise in STD rates fuels ongoing debate

By Kelly Soderlund, The Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana), January 15, 2006

"When it comes to sex education in schools, Indiana is an abstinence state and most districts teach students that not having sex until marriage is the best and safest route to go. Health educators rarely bring up methods of contraception, and it is not suggested that students use birth control if they are going to have sex." Click here to read the report.

Kansas: Abstinence-only (with a twist)

Kansas Schools To Teach Abstinence

by 365Gay.com, June 15, 2006

(Topeka, Kansas) The Kansas State Board of Education is directing schools across the state to offer abstinence in sex education classes beginning in the fall, stopping just short of ordering schools to require the classes.

The board voted 6-4 to approve the policy which also calls on schools to provide medical information on preventing sexually transmitted diseases and birth control. Continue

Backers of comprehensive sex ed not happy with compromise plan

By John Hanna, The Wichita Eagle, June 13, 2006

TOPEKA, Kan. - Conservative State Board of Education members have backed away from mandating abstinence-only courses, but supporters of comprehensive sexuality classes don't like a proposed compromise policy. Continue

Kansas Board rewrites sex ed rule; abstinence-only debate in works

By John Hanna, The Kansas City Star, March 15, 2006

The Kansas State Board of Education (the same body that mandated teaching intelligent design) has now decreed that schools must get written permission from parents before enrolling their children in sex education classes. Only three other states require parental permission. The board, also decided to consider a mandatory "abstinence only" unit. Meanwhile, the state legislature is considering legislation requiring comprehensive sex-ed courses and forbidding their replacement with abstinence only. Click here to read the report.

Kansas: Sex Education

Kansas Abortion Measure Tacked Onto Schools Bill

Christian Post, May 5, 2006

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A proposal requiring sex education courses to discuss abortion methods and fetal development became part of a school finance bill Tuesday, but a bill to keep school districts from canceling sex ed classes remained stuck in committee.

The House voted 74-49 to add the abortion-related amendment to the school finance bill. Teachers would have to show photos or drawings of fetuses, discuss the medical risks associated with abortion procedures and provide information about whether the fetus feels pain.

Abortion opponents have pushed for such a provision, saying girls should know the risks involved in abortion.

They’re also suspicious of a bill requiring school districts to offer sex education courses that not only promote abstinence but also give students information about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and how to avoid them. The measure is backed by parents, teachers and public health advocates, but supporters also include the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. Continue

Massachusetts: Abstinence-only

Mass. Gov. Romney expands sex-abstinence programs

By Belinda Yu, Associated Press via Yahoo, April 20, 2006

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney unveiled an expansion of teenage sexual-abstinence programs in the heavily Democratic state on Thursday, polishing his conservative credentials ahead of a possible White House run.

Under the plan, the federally-funded Christian organization Healthy Futures will fund abstinence programs in Massachusetts classrooms, adding the state to a growing list of U.S. states that have expanded sex-abstinence education. Continue

State to push abstinence in schools
Romney to use US grant; other sex-ed will stay

By Scott Helman, The Boston Globe, December 21, 2005

"The Romney administration plans to introduce a new abstinence education program in Massachusetts schools beginning next month, the state's most aggressive effort yet to use a controversial method of teaching Bay State teenagers about sex.

"The campaign, scheduled to last through June 2007, will only target certain schools and will be aimed especially at teens in black and Hispanic communities, who tend to have higher rates of sexual activity. The proposal by the state Department of Health, quietly posted on its website earlier this month, would add an abstinence education program for 12-to-14-year-olds in an unspecified number of schools." Click here to read the report.

Missouri: Abstinence only

Missouri sex education bill aligns with U.S. model

By Matt Franck, St. Louis Post-Distpatch, February 15, 2007

JEFFERSON CITY -- Sex education classes in Missouri's public schools would no longer be required to teach about contraception under a bill that would, instead, model instruction after a federal abstinence-only program.

Critics told a House committee Wednesday that the bill would gut the state's sex education law, making it impossible for teachers to speak of any form of contraception other than abstinence. Continue.

New York

Sex-ed bill fails in state Senate

By Cara Matthews, The Journal News (Lower Hudson Valley), July 4, 2006

ALBANY - Advocates who think sex education in New York's schools is short on education say they will return to the Capitol next year to fight for legislation that would fund "age-appropriate and medically accurate" curriculum on sexuality. Continue

Tell teens the facts about sex

Opinion Article by Rabbi Dennis S. Ross, director of Concerned Clergy for Choice in Albany, The Times Union (Albany, New York), June 19, 2006

When it comes to sex, teenagers need the facts. Four out of every 10 teenagers report having sex before graduating high school. Yet our education system fails to provide students with the most basic health information, as clergy witness every time we sit down to counsel teenagers and their families about unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

Teenagers need more than "Just Say No." Normal and powerful hormones and passions challenge even the most intelligent and educated adults. Teens need the truth about sex in order to keep themselves safe and healthy. Continue

Sex education bill stirs debate in Albany

By Cara Mathews and Alison Bert, The Journal News (Albany, New York), February 19, 2006

"Does sex education encourage sexual activity, and does abstinence-only instruction withhold critical knowledge from those who need it?

"Those are the core issues in a debate over proposed legislation that would encourage schools to provide 'age-appropriate and medically accurate' sex education." Click here to read the report.

North Carolina

ADF assists parents, calls on NC Dept. of Justice to monitor illicit school curricula
ADF attorney says exposing students to sexually explicit materials without parental permission violates North Carolina law

Alliance Defense Fund, June 08, 2007

Raleigh, N.C. - For the third year in a row, alarmed parents have turned to an Alliance Defense Fund attorney to help ensure that public officials in charge of the Governor's School, a state-run, summer academic program for accelerated students, will obey state statutes and refrain from unlawful indoctrination of students.

ADF Senior Legal Counsel Mike Johnson sent a letter Friday to the North Carolina Attorney General's office documenting the history of parental concerns with the Governor's School, and requesting that the program be closely monitored during its upcoming summer session. The letter asks that the Attorney General's office ensure that the 2007 Governor's School remains free this year of any seminars or unapproved sexuality education curricula, and that religious viewpoints will not be unconstitutionally maligned, but instead treated with equal dignity and respect. Continue.

Ohio

Gov. to end abstinence program
But births to teens down, backers argue

By Jon Craig, Cincinnati Enquirer via HealthyVisions.com, March 23, 2007

COLUMBUS - Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed $53 billion budget eliminates an abstinence-only sex-education program.

Removal of $1 million in state aid over two years marks a shift in Ohio support for abstinence-only programs, which advocates call a national model.

The federally subsidized program encourages schoolchildren to abstain from sex until they're married.

Strickland said he thinks abstinence programs don't work well in the long run and does not plan to apply for federal money after current funding ends Sept. 30. Continue.

Ohio governor scorns abstinence programs

Jim Brown, OneNewsNow.com via JournalChretien.net, March 28, 2007

The pro-abortion governor of Ohio says public school students in his state do not need abstinence-until-marriage education programs. Democratic Governor Ted Strickland has proposed a new budget that would eliminate the $500,000 the state spends annually on abstinence-based sex education.

Strickland recently told the Western Star newspaper that he does not believe programs encouraging kids to practice abstinence work "in the long run." However, Linda Harvey of the Columbus-based pro-family group Mission America says the Ohio governor is predictably bowing to pressure from homosexual and pro-abortion lobbyists in his network of friends. Continue

Oregon

ACLU Asks State, Federal Officials To Investigate Oregon-Based Abstinence-Only Sex Education Program's Use of Public Funds

KaiserNet.org, Daily Women's Health Policy News, May 18, 2007

The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon have sent letters to HHS and the Oregon Department of Human Services, respectively, asking the agencies to investigate whether a Eugene, Ore.-based abstinence-only sex education program used public funds for religious purposes, the Eugene Register-Guard reports. The ACLU said the Lane Pregnancy Support Center is unconstitutionally using public funds for its "Stop and Think" program because it requires that all program presenters "hold particular religious beliefs."

According to the Register-Guard, the Northern Hills Pregnancy Care Center in Spearfish, S.D., in 2002 signed a contract with the "Stop and Think" program that required presenters and supervisors of its curriculum "possess an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ." The contract further stipulated that presenters "possess knowledge of the word of God and the ability to communicate its truth; exhibit a loving and merciful spirit; (and) attend a Bible-believing local church or fellowship," the Register-Guard reports. Click here to continue reading and for links to the ACLU letters and the contract with Lane.

Rhode Island bars abstinence-only curriculum

Rhode Island: State says no to sex-education program
Objections to the program had been raised by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the program promoted sexist stereotypes.

By John Castellucci, The Providence Journal, March 23, 2006

"PROVIDENCE -- A federally financed abstinence-only sex-education program hasn't been approved by the state Department of Education and shouldn't be taught in Rhode Island public schools, State Education Commissioner Peter McWalters said.

"The program, developed by the nonprofit group Heritage of Rhode Island, has been determined to be 'NOT consistent with Rhode Island Health Education Standards,' McWalters said in an advisory, which was posted on the Department of Education Web site and sent to all public school districts. Click here.

Abstinence Ed Group to ACLU: Produce Proof or Retract False Allegations

Jim Brown and Jenni Parker, Agape Press, April 4, 2006

Heritaqe of Rhode Island claims that the American Civil Liberties Union spread false allegations about their "abstinence-only" program "Right Time, Right Place."Click here

Rhode Island Boots Abstinence-Only Sex Ed from Classrooms

By Jim Brown and Jody Brown, Agape Press, March 28, 2006

"Rhode Island has dumped a federal education program that encourages young people to abstain from sexual activity and other risky behaviors. The state's education officials are being accused of caving in to the demands of the ACLU." Continue.

South Dakota: Abstinence-only

Sioux Falls Parents' Advocate Urges Abstinence-Based Sex Ed Curriculum

By Jim Brown, Agape Press, January 24, 2006

"Parents in one South Dakota public school district are calling for abstinence-only education in their students' health classes. These eight concerned parents in Sioux Falls recently succeeded in getting textbooks that promote condom-based sex education programs removed from area middle school classes. The group, led by local citizen Penny Martens, is now proposing revisions to the objectives of the sexual health curriculum as a whole." Click here for the article.

Virginia: Comprehensive Sex-ed

Christian Sex-Ed Lesson Criticized
Comedian Spreads Misinformation, Fear, Group Says

By Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post, March 15, 2007

Christian comedian Keith Deltano used fear, shame and misinformation to spread his message about abstinence to students at three high schools in Loudoun County this school year, according to a critique by an organization that advocates comprehensive sex education.

The group reviewed Deltano's February performance at Dominion High School in Sterling. Its findings were shared Friday night at an event at George Washington University in Ashburn organized by Mainstream Loudoun and some churches.

The Ashburn event featured the movie "The Education of Shelby Knox," about a Christian teenager in Texas who becomes an advocate for comprehensive sex education, and a discussion afterward with the star of the film. Sponsors of the event said they wanted to start a public conversation about sex education in Loudoun. Continue.

Wisconsin: Abstinence-only

Doyle says no to abstinence dollars
Title 5 only pays if there's no play

By Judith Davidoff, Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin), March 3, 2007

Wisconsin will turn down roughly $600,000 in federal abstinence education funding rather than comply with new rules banning a comprehensive approach to pregnancy prevention, said Stephanie Marquis of the Department of Health and Family Services.

Gov. Jim Doyle has directed the department to notify federal officials of his decision, Marquis said Friday.

Marquis said programs receiving these funds would not be able to provide complete information about contraception or sexually transmitted diseases.

Wisconsin is now the fifth state to reject receipt of Title 5 abstinence-only-before-marriage funds for Fiscal Year 2007. Continue.

Doyle signs bill requiring abstinence education

Lexie Clinton, The Daily Cardinal (Madison, Wisconsin), Thursday, June 1, 2006

Gov. Jim Doyle’s signed a bill in May requiring Wisconsin school boards to present abstinence as the ideal choice of behavior in sex education curriculums. Though the bill carried bi-partisan support after it was amended, it may not be as strong as its authors originally intended. Continue

Abstinence bill gaining momentum
Backers cite safety; critics say lessons ignore teen behavior

By Steven Walters, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 15, 2005

"The bill (SB 286) touched off a firestorm at a public hearing Tuesday, where abstinence was called the only "100% effective method" of avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Opponents said the move would ignore the fact that many teens already engage in sexual activity." Click here to read the report