Minnesota: State Says "No Thanks" to No-Sex Funding
October 25, 2007
Last month, Minnesota officials quietly elected not to apply for $500,000 in federal abstinence funds for a state Department of Health program that has been taught since 1998.
That effort, "Minnesota Education Now and Babies Later," targets 12- to 14-year-olds, emphasizing the social and psychological advantages of abstinence, self-sufficiency, and how to reject sexual advances. Funded by state and federal money, it provided grants to educators, community-based organizations, churches, and other groups.
But the US government recently mandated that programs using the federal funds must also teach that sex outside of marriage can be physically and psychologically harmful. That message, officials said, must be directed at everyone ages 12 to 29.
Maggie Diebel, the Health Department's director of community health, said state officials deemed such messages inappropriate for children ages 12-14 and decided not to ask for the federal money. That leaves the program with a budget of $331,000 compared to the $2 million it received in 2004.
The state's decision comes at a time when the value of abstinence-only sex education is being debated. Several recent studies have found the programs are ineffective in reducing sexual activity among teens and adolescents. Critics of abstinence-only education point to the fact that the long decline in sexual activity among teenagers has stalled since 2001. "Are we seeing a turnaround in these positive trends because we are seeing the impact of ineffective educational strategies on kids?" asked Michael Resnick, a University of Minnesota professor and adolescent health researcher.
Congress is considering whether to expand abstinence-only funding, which currently stands at $175 million annually.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
10.20.2007; Josephine Marcotty
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.