On December 2, the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) presented a well-attended briefing on Capitol Hill, Sex Education Policy: Who's teaching what & why it matters. Dr. Diane Foley, physician and expert on adolescent gynecology, shared the medical need for a strong Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) message, while Valerie Huber (NAEA) related the anti-abstinence bias in the Obama Administration.
Seeking a renewed priority on SRA education , NAEA called for support for H.R. 2874, The Abstinence Education Reallocation Act, introduced by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and cosponsored by 63 Members on both sides of the aisle. The common sense SRA approach helps teens avoid all sexual risk.
Anti-Abstinence Education Bias
In the Obama Administration
Introduction: President Obama has ignored congressional guidance, research, science, and the best health outcomes for young people by opposing abstinence education.
Abolished Abstinence Education. President Obama opposed abstinence education since the start of his administration, when he asked Congress to abolish abstinence-centered programs.[i]
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. The review process for the newly created Teen Pregnancy Prevention(TPP) program was blatantly anti-abstinence, with some applicants penalized because they encouraged teens to wait until marriage before engaging in sex. Only four programs and less than $5 million of the $100 million in funding went to abstinence-centered programs.[ii]
Defined "evidence-based" as essentially any Program that is NOT Abstinence-Centered. Breaking with objective research protocols, HHS released a list of 28 "proven effective" curricula to be used for replication models across the U.S., even though some of the curricula had research showing negative results. In addition, the criteria used for defining effectiveness dismissed research from abstinence-centered programs.
Decrees Questionable Sex Education. TPP directs ¾ of its funding be used to implement medically inaccurate texts and those that normalize teen sex, raising them as models for replication. [iii]
Tramples Title V Congressional Intent and Language. Congress reauthorized Title V Abstinence Education Programs, but HHS permitted states to use the funds for programs that had nothing to do with abstinence education, including increasing nursing staff in school-based health clinics, improving rates of teens who received the HPV vaccine and implementing curriculum that is not abstinence-centered.
Buries Report Showing Parents and Teens Favor Abstinence Education. HHS refused to release the National Survey of Adolescents and their Parents: Attitudes and Opinions about Sex and Abstinence, until receiving nearly 800 FOIA requests. The report showed overwhelming support for abstinence until marriage messaging.
Forbids Applicants for Marriage & Relationship Grants from Mentioning the Benefits of Abstinence Before Marriage. Despite the fact that research shows a clear relationship between teen sex and marriage dissolution, [iv] HHS prohibited grantees from mentioning this science-based finding in marriage and relationship programs designed for teens, one of the targeted audiences of this funding, declaring it an "unallowable activity". [v]
[i] Office of the President. (2009). Budget of the US Gov't for Fiscal Year 2010/DHHS. Washington, D.C.: Department of Health and Human services. Page 491.
[ii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Teenage pregnancy prevention: Summary of funded evidence-based programs for 2010. Washington, D. C.: OAH/HHS. Accessed at http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/prevention/grantees/models_2010_programs.html
Note: Only four programs were funded that included authentic SRA curricula in their proposals. They were PATH ($988,164), Live the Life Ministries, Inc ($891,533), Project REACH ($1,209,010), and University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio ($851,450).
[iv] Paik, A., (2011) Adolescent sexuality and the risk of marital dissolution. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73:472-485.
[v] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. (2011).
Community-Centered Healthy Marriage and Relationship Grants Announcement and Application Instructions. Washington, D. C.: Office of Family Assistance, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa/view/HHS-2011-ACF-OFA-FM-0193/html