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SIECUS Releases New Edition of State Profiles

On July 19, 2006, SIECUS released the latest edition of the SIECUS State Profiles: A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States. This third edition covers federal Fiscal Year 2005 and is the most comprehensive document of its kind detailing sexuality education and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in states and communities across the country. The publication contains information on each state’s law(s), currently proposed legislation, and recent events related to sexuality education.  It goes on to describe the amount of money the state government and other state and local entities receive for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and how these funds are used.

The SIECUS State Profiles also includes several charts: one comparing federal funding among the states and two new charts contrasting laws from across the country. The federal funding chart clearly illustrates the different amounts that states receive. The first of the new charts compares administrative policies, such as whether or not sexuality education and/or HIV/AIDS prevention programs are mandated, opt-in versus opt-out requirements, and whether a review board is required in order for a school district to implement a sexuality education program. The second new chart focuses on policy topics outlined in state laws, such as abstinence, contraception, marriage, abortion, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) topics.

In addition, the SIECUS State Profiles includes an analysis designed to put the research contained within each state profile into a broader context, highlight areas of change from the two earlier editions, and recognize trends in sexuality education and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.  This analysis contains a description of legislative developments, such as which states have passed new laws, which states are fighting restrictive legislation, and which states are introducing innovative approaches to comprehensive sexuality education law and policy. Furthermore, it tracks the spread of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs across the country and outlines what state and local activists are doing to fight these programs.

The analysis also highlights areas of concern, including the spread of abstinence-only-until-marriage funds to anti-choice organizations. Anti-choice programs receive over one-third of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding. In some states, more than half of abstinence-only-until-marriage funding is given to overtly anti-choice organizations. This is especially true in New Jersey, where over a third of the funding goes to crisis pregnancy centers and well over sixty percent goes to anti-choice organizations. One such group is the Several Sources Foundation, which has already received over two million dollars in Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) grants and is slated to receive almost another two million in the next two years. Several Sources runs a number of different organizations that endorse anti-choice and abstinence-only-until-marriage messages.

The analysis also discusses many positive signs in the fight for comprehensive sexuality education. These signs included legislation in New York and Illinois that were promising attempts to fund comprehensive sexuality education through well-designed programs. New York ‘s Healthy Teen’s Act passed the state assembly, but fell one vote short in the state senate. Illinois ‘ bill passed out of their Senate Health and Human Services committee on a vote of 7 to 2, but was not voted on in the full Senate.

Another positive sign was the continued push back against federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Maine , California , and Pennsylvania all continued to reject Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds. In addition, New Mexico attempted to restrict its Title V money to programs in the 6 th grade and below. The Bush Administration, however, staunchly defended the primacy of its own dictates on abstinence and marriage promotion, and rejected this approach.

“There are encouraging signs. One of the most significant findings is that there is increasing push back against these unproven programs,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS. “With no sound research and no support from the public health community, it is clear that citizens and policymakers in states and communities are deciding a better approach is needed,” Smith continued.

“Troubling issues do persist. As SIECUS ‘ research has shown, millions of dollars have been pumped into anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and other right-wing groups,” said the report’s primary author Rebecca Fox . “Curricula continue to be riddled with false and misleading information and taxpayer money is being inappropriately used to fuel the spread of these programs in the states,” continued Fox.

To view the complete profiles, go here.