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U.S. News

Arizona: State to Accept Abstinence-Only Education Grant

April 22, 2009

On Friday, a spokesperson for Gov. Jan Brewer (R) confirmed the state is pursuing more than $1 million in federal abstinence-only sex education funding, citing teen pregnancies and STDs as "urgent public health issues." The decision comes one year after Arizona's then-Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) rejected federal funding for abstinence-only programs, saying they do not work.

"Gov. Brewer believes in abstinence education," said spokesperson Paul Senseman. "She believes these are very effective programs. And with over a million dollars available, she felt this was a good opportunity."

For the coming year, the federal program will require $776,082 in matching state funds. However, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) has found outside contractors willing to offer matching funds, officials said, freeing the state from having to seek money from its overstretched coffers. Napolitano cited the obligation to match the funds among her reasons for rejecting the federal grant.

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If awarded, the state would contract with outside providers to come up with abstinence-only curricula, so the money would not actually go directly to public schools. Many of the contractors are nonprofits eligible for a variety of other government grants. The abstinence grant would cover sex education for more than 20,000 Arizona middle- and high-school-age students, officials said.

Arizona law already requires that abstinence be taught in public school-based sex education curricula. Individual districts decide how to structure the programs, and whether the courses will provide additional instruction about condoms and other contraception.

Arizona has one of the nation's highest teen pregnancy and teen birth rates. "I don't really get the [abstinence-only vs. comprehensive sex education] debate because everyone is after the same goal: to prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs," said Will Humble, DHS's interim director.

Back to other news for April 2009

Adapted from:
Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
04.18.2009; Ginger Rough


  
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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.
 
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