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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bill Introduced to Defund Abstinence-Only Sex Ed

By Ty Cobb

Today, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) re-introduced the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act, which would end abstinence-only-until-marriage programs once and for all.  HRC has long opposed federal funding for abstinence-only programs because they exclude, or even denigrate, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. These programs are prohibited by law from discussing contraceptive use and exclude, by design, LGBT youth because marriage is unavailable to LGBT individuals in most parts of the country.
Since 1996, Congress has spent almost $1.5 billion on abstinence-only programs, despite a wealth of evidence that they are ineffective.  In fact, no study in a professional peer-reviewed journal has found abstinence-only programs to be broadly effective.  While our Congress searches to ensure that every tax dollar is spent in an effective manner, this legislation furthers this pursuit by defunding a program that has not been proven effective.
The bill would strip the abstinence-only provision from Title V of the Social Security Act, and rescind the $50 million that has been appropriated to abstinence-only programs.  In addition, it would redirect the $50 million in abstinence-only funds to the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), which provides for comprehensive, evidence-based efforts to prevent teen pregnancy and reduce sexually-transmitted infections.
Our nation’s youth deserve the facts about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.   It is time for Congress to ensure that our students are no longer subjugated to ineffective abstinence-only programs.  HRC thanks Senator Lautenberg and Representative Lee for their continued support of comprehensive and medically accurate sex education.


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