NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota today said a new report reviewing the effectiveness of 115 sex education programs offers strong evidence that it is time for the government to support sex education programs that include information that teenagers need to make healthy life decisions and to stop funding ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programming.
"The ACLU has long held that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs which deny teens information on contraceptives are ineffective," said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director. "Today's study makes clear that these programs have no place in our classrooms and should not be funded by taxpayer dollars."
Today's report, Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, was authored by Douglas Kirby, Ph.D., a leading sexual health researcher. The report found that programs containing information on abstinence and contraception - for which there is currently no dedicated federal funding - can significantly delay the initiation of sex, reduce the frequency of sex, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase condom or contraceptive use among teens.
"Minnesota should focus on keeping teens healthy and helping them to protect against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases," said Charles Samuelson. "This report demonstrates that programs that provide teens with information on both abstinence and contraception have a positive impact on teens' behavior."
Recognizing the myriad problems with abstinence-only-until-marriage instruction, fourteen states have stopped participating in the federal funding scheme because the programs are ineffective and leave teens without the information they need to make healthy decisions. Twelve states have done so within the past year, including Minnesota.
Since 1996, the federal government has spent more than a billion dollars on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs despite research like today's indicating that many such programs are ineffective while programs that teach about delaying sex and using protection can significantly change sexual behaviors among teens. Yet, Congress is poised in the coming weeks to again increase funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, the ACLU said.
Besides endangering teen's health, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs raise serious civil liberties concerns. These programs create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian teens, reinforce gender stereotypes, and in some instances use taxpayer dollars to promote religion.
To view today's report visit: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/EA2007/default.aspx
For a summary of key findings from today's report: http://www.guttmacher.org/media/evidencecheck/2007/11/07/Advisory_Emerging_Answers_2007.pdf