General Articles

Abstinence Only Until Marriage Industry Launches Fundraising Campaign

In June 2008, the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA), the lobbying arm of the abstinence-only-until-marriage industry, launched a campaign called “Parents For Truth” to gain the support of parents and raise money in their effort to maintain federal funding. [i]   
The campaign is a fundraising scheme consisting of a website ( asking parents to pay $35 to gain access to information from the NAEA. The lobbying organization uses this campaign to make claims about the content of comprehensive sexuality education during a video dramatization between two women. 
The video shows the women having a conversation about what is labeled as comprehensive sexuality education in one of their daughter’s school. The women discuss the contents of this program, which includes safe sexual behaviors such as “taking showers together.” Each are upset because this was not the comprehensive sexuality curriculum they thought was being taught in their school.[ii] 
In fact, the curriculum described, Be Proud Be Responsible, is not comprehensive sexuality education. It is an HIV-prevention program specifically targeted to inner city African-American male adolescents.[iii] The program is culturally tailored and intended to, “increase knowledge of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and to reduce positive attitudes and intentions toward risky sexual behaviors among African-American male adolescents.”[iv] In this video by the NAEA, examples are given without appropriate context, resulting in a fear-filled and dishonest portrayal. 
This attack on comprehensive sexuality education is an attempt to shift attention away from the mounting evidence showing abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to be ineffective.[v] Among this evidence is a report conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It found no evidence that abstinence-only programs increased rates of sexual abstinence. In fact, students in the abstinence-only programs had a similar number of sexual partners as their peers not in the programs, as well as a similar age of first sex.[vi]  
Adding to Mathematica’s report, in April of 2008, Congress held the first-ever hearing on the content of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Public health experts were united in their opposition to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs due to the ineffectiveness of such programs as well as ethical concerns about this teaching strategy. The majority of the health professionals called for an end to federal funding for the programs and said that funds should instead be spent on comprehensive sexuality education that has been proven to be effective.[vii]
Numerous surveys show strong parental support for sexuality education. 93 percent of parents of junior high school students and 91 percent of parents of high school students believe it is very or somewhat important to have sexuality education as part of the school curriculum.[viii] In addition, over 85 percent of parents support a wide range of topics taught in sexuality education including: HIV/AIDS prevention, birth control use, and contraception use and skills.[ix] 
Nonetheless, the NAEA hopes to enroll 100,000 parents in the first year and a total of 1 million parents in the first three years.[x] 
“The NAEA’s campaign is a clear fundraising effort in troubled times as evidence continues to mount against the effectiveness of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs,” said William Smith, vice president of public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “Parents will see this for what it is and continue to support comprehensive sexuality education,” he concluded. 

[i] Rob Stein, “U.S. Campaign to Promote Abstinence Begins,” 1 June 2008, accessed 20 June 2008

[ii] “Parents for Truth,” National Abstinence Education Association, accessed 25 June 2008,

[iii] “Best Evidence: Be Proud! Be Responsible!” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed 24 June 2008, <>.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Charlie Butts, “Parents Enrolled to Fight for Abstinence,” One News Now, 3 June 2008, accessed 20 June 2008,

[vi] Christopher Trenholm, et. al., “Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs: Final Report,” (Trenton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., April 2007), accessed 20 June 2008, <>.

[vii] Will Dunham, “Experts say US sex abstinence program doesn’t work,” Reuters, 23 April 2008, accessed 28 April 2008, <>.

[viii] Sex Education in America (Washington, DC: National Public Radio, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and Kennedy School of Government, 2004), 5.

[ix] Sex Education in America, 9—11.

[x] Stein, “U.S. Campaign to Promote Abstinence Begins.”