New York Should Reject Federal Abstinence-Only Sex Education Funding

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Federal Abstinence-Only Sex Education Funding

New York state, which receives more federal funding for abstinence-only sex education programs than any other state except Texas and Florida, should "join the other states" that have rejected the funding, Galen Sherwin, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Rights Project, and Corienne Carey, an attorney with the project, write in a New York Times letter to the editor (Sherwin/Carey, New York Times, 7/24).

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California, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have rejected funding from the federal Title V abstinence education program, which distributes money based on a formula favoring states with more low-income children. To receive Title V funds, states must adhere to certain requirements, including barring teachers from discussing contraception and requiring them to say that sex within marriage is "the expected standard of sexual activity." Many state governors have said the grants place too many restrictions on the curricula (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/18).

According to Sherwin and Carey, an NYCLU review of abstinence-only programs in New York found that "they consistently use materials that are medically inaccurate and biased and are administered without adequate quality control or evaluation measures." The "'abstinence-only-until-marriage' message deprives young people of final information to help them guard against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, if and when they do become sexually active," Sherwin and Carey write, concluding that New York should use state funds "to deliver real sex education that would empower young people to make informed choices, including the choice to remain abstinent" (New York Times, 7/24).

Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.