On March 23, SIECUS released the 2004 Edition of State Profiles: A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States . This second edition includes information on each state's law(s), currently proposed legislation, and recent events related to sexuality education. It goes on to detail the amount of money the state and other state-based entities receive for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and how these funds are used.
The 2004 Edition also includes an analysis of sexuality education and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs over the past few years. This analysis focuses on several key points: the lack of uniformity among state sexuality education laws, how states use their abstinence-only-until-marriage funding, the political clout of the proponents of these programs, and the evaluation of state-based abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
Laws All Over the Map
State sexuality education laws vary widely. Some states, such as North Dakota , have no laws governing sexuality education. Others, such as South Carolina , severely restrict what can be discussed in sexuality education. In South Carolina, contraception may not be discussed unless it is within the context of its use in marriage; adoption can be discussed, but abortion cannot; and sexuality education "may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases."1
Conversely, California , Maine , New Jersey , and Oregon have laws that support a more comprehensive approach to sexuality education. The laws in Oregon and California do not mandate sexuality education, but state that if sexuality education is taught it must be comprehensive. Maine and New Jersey take this one step further and mandate comprehensive sexuality education in public schools.
All About Politics
The analysis also uncovers the political connections of many organizations that receive a large amount of abstinence-only-until-marriage funding. For example, in Washington , DC , the Best Friends Foundation has received close to $1.5 million in federal funding between 2003 and 2004. This organization was founded and is run by Elayne Bennett, who is married to William Bennett, former Secretary of Education under President Ronald Regan. The organization also has several well-connected board members, including Alma Powell, wife of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Another organization, the Medical Institute (formerly known as the Medical Institute for Sexual Health or MISH) was founded and is run by Dr. Joe McIlhaney. Dr. McIlhaney has close ties to the Bush Administration that stem from his organization's work with then-Governor George W. Bush on promoting abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Texas . McIlhaney and the Medical Institute have become key White House insiders on sexuality-related issues. For example, McIlhaney currently sits on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), an advisory panel that makes policy recommendations to the Bush Administration regarding HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . The Medical Institute receives over $500,000 annually in federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, including funding from the CDC.
Federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding also tends to be concentrated in states that figure prominently in national politics such as those states that typically support Republican candidates. In addition, key swing states in national elections (those whose political support has historically been unpredictable and is critical to the outcome of elections) often receive large amounts of abstinence-only-until-marriage funds. Of the ten states that receive the largest amount of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds, four are considered Republican strongholds in national elections: Alabama , Georgia , Tennessee , and Texas . Of these same ten another three were the most important swing states in the last presidential election: Florida , Ohio , and Pennsylvania .
Despite the Evidence
As Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs enter their eighth year of federal funding, SIECUS is aware of only eleven states that have evaluated their Title V programs and publicly released the results. These evaluations have ranged from finding abstinence-only-until-marriage programs ineffective to finding that these programs are potentially harmful. Not a single evaluation has arrived at the conclusion that this experiment has been a wise investment of taxpayer money.
The two most recent evaluations assessed the Title V programs in Kansas and Texas . Both found that the programs produced little change in behavior or attitudes. In Kansas , researchers stated that "no changes [were] noted for participants' actual or intended behavior; such as whether they planned to wait until marriage to have sex."2 Researchers concluded, "rather than focusing on Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage, data suggests that including information on contraceptive use may be more effective at decreasing teen pregnancies."3
In Texas , an analysis of students' responses to surveys before and after the abstinence-only-until-marriage interventions found that there were " no significant changes " in the percentages of students "pledging not to have sex until marriage." 4 In addition, the analysis revealed that the percentage of students reporting having ever engaged in sexual intercourse increased for nearly all ages between 13 and 17 by post-test. Notably, prior to participating in an abstinence-only-until-marriage program, 23% of ninth grade girls had engaged in sexual intercourse; following the program, 29% of the same age group reported having engaged in sexual intercourse. In addition, the proportion of tenth grade boys reporting sexual intercourse increased from 24% to 39% following abstinence-only-until-marriage instruction. 5
The Far Reach of Far-Right Propaganda
The 2004 Edition of the State Profiles also includes information on the curricula used in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Specifically it details which states are using curricula that rely on fear and shame, include false and misleading information about contraception and abortion, and ignore the needs of LGBTQ people. None of these curricula have been rigorously evaluated. Some of the most commonly-used curricula include:
• A.C. Green's Game Plan: Arizona , Colorado , Delaware , Florida , Illinois , Iowa , New York , and Virginia
• Choosing the Best : Alabama , Arizona, Colorado , Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New York , Oklahoma, and Texas
• FACTS: Arizona , Kansas , Nebraska , Oregon , Utah , and West Virginia
• WAIT Training: Arizona , Colorado , Florida , Oklahoma , and Pennsylvania
In addition to fear-based messages and misinformation, many funded programs demonstrate an unmistakable bias against abortion. As the State Profiles show, much of the abstinence-only-until-marriage funding is given to explicitly anti-choice organizations, including crisis pregnancy centers. Crisis pregnancy centers typically advertise assistance to women faced with unintended pregnancies who are "at risk" for abortion. At these centers, volunteers use anti-abortion propaganda, misinformation, and fear and shame tactics to dissuade women from exercising their right to choose and to preach abstinence as the only method of preventing unintended pregnancies. 6
Nationally, over $26 million in federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding goes to anti-choice organizations. Ohio and New York have the greatest number of anti-choice organizations that receive funding; ten organizations in Ohio receive a total of almost $4 million dollars and 12 organizations in New York receive a total of at least $2.5 million.
Not surprisingly, the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs run by these organizations reflect their anti-choice views. This connection sheds light on the extreme conservative agenda that clearly underlies the abstinence-only-until-marriage industry.
"SIECUS State Profiles is not only the most comprehensive of its kind, but also draws important links between abstinence-only-until-marriage funding and political power. These links appear to be one of the strongest explanations for how such biased, unproven programs continue to receive almost $200 million a year in federal funding," said the publication's principal researcher and author, Rebecca Fox , SIECUS assistant director for public policy.
To View the 2004 Edition of State Profiles: A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States, please see: http://www.siecus.org/policy/states/index.html
1 Code of Laws of South Carolina Title 59, Chapter 32.
2 Ted Carter, Evaluation Report for The Kansas Abstinence Education Program ( Topeka , KS : Kansas Department of Health and Environment, November 2004), 10.
3 Ibid., 22.
4 Patricia Goodson, et al, Abstinence Education Evaluation Phase 5: Technical Report ( College Station , TX : Department of Health & Kinesiology - Texas A&M University , 2004), 170-172. Emphasis included in original document.
6 NARAL: Reproductive Freedom and Choice, Deceptive Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers (13 April 1999), accessed 3 March 2005, < http://www.naral.org/facts/loader.cfm?url=