Holla at your representatives that you don’t want to fund abstinence-only sex ed.

March 11th, 2009  |  Published in Uncategorized

Act at http://capwiz.com/advofy/utr/2/?a=12162006&i=92217564&c=

This is what I wrote:

I am very concerned about the safety, health, and happiness of youth in Indiana and across the nation.  So, I am writing to ask you to end funding for ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage education programs including:

* Title V Abstinence Education program, Section 510 of the Social Security Act – (state formula grants), funded at $50 million

* Community-Based Abstinence Education under Title XI of the Social Security Act – (direct grants), funded at $116 million

* Adolescent Family Life Act (Title XX of the Public Health Service Act) abstinence-only grants, funded at $13 million

GRAND TOTAL: $179 million per year

It is my hope that by de-funding programs that don’t work, we can provide support that will help youth in Indiana, and across the U.S., safer, healthier, and equipped to make the best choices in their lives.

I know that my local school district has an abstinence-based curriculum and not an abstinence-only sex education curriculum.  However, the pressure of funding programs that do not fully discuss contraception, STI prevention, and acknowledge the reality that youth in Indiana (and around the US) are sexually active, regardless of whether this is the best choice or not, means that many youth in my community do not have the information they need to be safe and healthy and to encourage their peers to make safe, healthy life choices.

I have first-hand experience working as a volunteer doing presentations about healthy relationships, sexual assault, and domestic violence in Bloomington-area middle schools and high schools.  I have found that, because of the local school district’s and Indiana’s emphasis on abstinence and reluctance to talk about even the biological mechanics of sex, many youth lack the basic information they need to participate in a comprehensive discussion about preventing sexual assault and relationship violence.

This is just one local and personal example about how non-comprehensive, abstinence-only-until-marriage education sex education is failing to make Hoosier youth safe and healthy.  However, there is ample additional evidence at the dangerous shortcomings of such approaches.

Here are the facts:

• In spite of their receiving over 1.5 billion dollars in federal funds since 1996, not a single, sound study has shown these programs to have a beneficial impact on young people’s behavior.

• Recent studies show these programs can create harm by undermining contraceptive use when young people in abstinence-only-until-marriage education become sexually active.  In one study, abstinence-only-until-marriage program participants were one-third less likely to use contraception when they did have sex compared to students not receiving the restrictive abstinence-only education. Nationally, over 60% of young people will have had sex before graduating from high school.

•  Over 135 national organizations, including the country’s major medical organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, belong to the National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education and strongly believe in teaching young people both abstinence and contraception.

I know that issues around sex and youth can be controversial, but I believe that I stand with the majority of Americans who want comprehensive sex education for their young people.  A 2004 survey by National Public Radio/Kaiser Family Foundation /Harvard University Kennedy School of Government found that 86% of voters want young people to receive a comprehensive approach to sex education that includes teaching about both abstinence and contraception.

By voting to end the 179 million dollars per year funding for the following failed programs, you will be sending a clear message that you support science and common sense.

Both fiscally and in terms of public health, we cannot afford to continue funding this unproven, dangerous approach. Young people’s health and lives are at risk.  We urge you to side with public health, with the medical community, with parents, young people and teachers and oppose any new funding for the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.