Building Support for Comprehensive Sexuality Education

The Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act, introduced yesterday by stalwarts Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-D) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), would shift the funds that go to states for abstinence-only programs to the new  Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) program, which provides support for comprehensive sexuality education.  Over the past 15 years, states have gotten a heart-stopping $500 million plus for abstinence-only programs. As evidence has mounted about their ineffectiveness, about half the states have decided not to take this money.

This new piece of legislation recognizes the need to fully remove ideology from education programs and provide comprehensive sexuality education. This includes the full range of information – including healthy relationships, biology, and ways to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Jen Heitel Yakush of SIECUS summed it up:  “New funding is finally available for evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education and it is counterproductive to continue funding the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program, which is, at best, a complete waste of time and money.”

Despite that, some in Congress continue to push and insist on funding these programs.  If enacted, this new bill would end the funding for abstinence-only programs.  Clearly the Congress won’t take action on this bill in 2010, but the ground work is being laid to work toward this goal in 2011.

You can send a thank you email to Sen. Lautenberg, who is also leading the fight to permanently repeal the global gag rule, and a thank you call to Rep. Lee at 202-225-2661 (only constituents can send her emails…and if you are, send one!)

SIECUS provides some key history on the politics and funding surrounding the state grants for abstinence only programs – and the new PREP program that can support comprehensive sexuality education.



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