2007-04-13 ACLU Calls on Congress to Stop Funding Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

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Today's report, Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs, concludes, "Findings indicate that youth in the program group were no more likely than control group youth to have abstained from sex and, among those who reported having had sex, they had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age."

"It is time for the federal government to leave ideology out of the sex education equation and stop wasting money on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that risk teens' health," said Vania Leveille, Legislative Counsel for the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "It's common sense: teens need complete and medically accurate information on both abstinence and contraception to lead healthy lives."

To receive federal funds, abstinence-only-until-marriage grantees must offer curricula that have as their "exclusive purpose" teaching the benefits of abstinence and may not advocate contraceptive use or teach contraception methods except to emphasize their failure rates.

Currently, there are no federal funds dedicated to programs providing teens with comprehensive sexuality education. The Responsible Education About Life Act (S.972 / HR. 1653), recently introduced in Congress, proposes the first federal program devoted to providing states with funding to teach age-appropriate sexuality education that includes medically accurate and complete information about abstinence and contraception, the ACLU said.

Besides endangering teens' health, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs raise serious civil liberties concerns. These programs create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian teens, reinforce gender stereotypes, and in some instances use taxpayer dollars to promote religion.