General Articles

Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Program Suspended After Complaint from a Parent

Daytona Beach, FL
The abstinence-only-until-marriage program, Pure Energy, used for years in Volusia County public schools has been suspended until the district’s School Health Advisory Committee recommends whether it should be continued or a more comprehensive curriculum should be adopted.
A mother complained to the school board this summer about Pure Energy and put her concerns in an editorial in which she criticized the program for inherent discrimination against single parents and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as for using untrained “coaches” to teach her child: “While students may receive sufficient sex education at home, as a community we cannot tolerate intolerance toward others promoted in our public schools and cannot dismiss the effect on our community.”[1]
Pure Energy has been used in the district since 2000 and complies with Florida state law.[2] Like many of the other programs operating throughout the state, Pure Energy and the organization that runs it, Resources for Women, received over $146,000 a year through 2007 from the federal government’s Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding stream. 
One of Pure Energy’s developers argued that the program is a useful tool in preventing the physical and emotional risks involved in pre-marital sex. Another proponent of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, who helped lead the effort to bring this restrictive approach to Volusia County in the late 1980s, called proposals to teach more comprehensive programming “disgusting” and said it could lead teens to make bad choices.[3]
After hearing the parent’s concerns, the superintendent suspended the program and asked the district’s School Health Advisory Committee to review it. The 36-member committee is expected to make a recommendation to the superintendent by January 2009, with the school board to decide how to proceed one month later.[4] Both the mother and program developer will be serving on the committee. SIECUS will continue to monitor the situation.

[1] Lynn Koller, “School abstinence-only program does not protect children,” Hometown News, 5 September 2008, accessed 10 October 2008 <>

[3] Denise-Marie Balona, “Volusia County urged to drop abstinence, teach safe sex,” Orlando Sentinel, 17 July 2008, accessed, 22 July 2008, <,0,7794404.story>.

[4] Linda Trimble, “Abstinence-only sex ed suspended while under review,” News-Journal Online, 5 October 2008, accessed on 8 October 2008 <>.