House Votes To Extend Title V Abstinence Education Program

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Title V Abstinence Education Program

The House on Wednesday voted 291-126 to extend until Sept. 30 thefederal Title V abstinence education program along with theTransitional Medical Assistance program, which provides Medicaidcoverage to families leaving welfare, the Washington Times reports. The extension, approved by the Senate late last month, now goes to President Bush for consideration (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 7/15).

Title V, administered by HHS' Administration for Children and Families,distributes funds based on a formula favoring states with morelow-income children. Title V traditionally has been reauthorized withthe TMA program. Some members of Congress are seeking to unlink Title Vfrom TMA so that they could be reauthorized separately, but othermembers have rejected the idea.

To receive Title V funds, statesmust adhere to certain requirements, including barring teachers fromdiscussing contraception and requiring them to say that sex withinmarriage is "the expected standard of sexual activity." Many stategovernors have said the grants place too many restrictions on thecurricula. California, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have rejected Title V funds.

Bushhas asked Congress to appropriate $191 million for the program forfiscal year 2008, an increase of $28 million from FY 2007 fundinglevels. Congressional Democratic leaders in May said they will notreauthorize Title V. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) -- chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the program -- said it has not proven to be effective (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/3).


Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association,on Friday said, "While we really applaud the bipartisan support for theextension of three months, ... it is our hope that it will be continuedon to the next fiscal year." Another concern is that the extensionexpires in September, which is the time the 2007-2008 school year willbegin, Huber added (Hunter, AP/Northwestern Alabama Times Daily, 7/13).

According to the Times, comprehensive sex-education advocates were dismayed by the extension, as well as by a recent votein a House committee to increase funding in the Community-BasedAbstinence Education program by $27.8 million to $141 million. "In oneinglorious motion, Democratic leaders sold out the health andwell-being of young people, delivered a public slap in the face toevidence-based public health and made a mockery of their 'preventionfirst' message," James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, said (Washington Times, 7/15).

Hispanic Version of Faith-Based, Sex-Education Curriculum Initially Designed for Black Youths Presented at Conference

In related news, the Hispanic version of a faith-based, sex-educationcurriculum initially designed for black youth was presented last weekat the annual National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality inWashington, D.C., the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, 500 black and Hispanic churchgoers attended the three-day conference, sponsored by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Thecurriculum -- called "Manteniendolo Real!" -- is based off a programcalled "Keeping it Real," which was written 10 years ago and designedfor black youth. The program uses biblical verses to spark discussionabout issues of health and sexuality, including teen pregnancy,abortion and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Penny Willis, director ofmulticultural programs for the religious reproductive choice coalition,said many ministers fear the program will encourage minors to have sex.She added, "it's not a program that says you should tell your child touse birth control. It's a program to give your child the tools theyneed" to make informed decisions (Salmon, Washington Post, 716).


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