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Alabama: Abstinence-Only Programs in State Losing Federal Funds

May 20, 2009

A number of Alabama programs that teach public and private school students to be sexually abstinent until marriage could lose federal support under the budget proposed by the Obama administration. Nationally, earmarked abstinence-only funding would be jettisoned in favor of $173 million for pregnancy prevention programs. Funding through Community Based Abstinence Education is also at risk.

Alabama could lose about $4 million total in federal abstinence-only sex education funding, according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

"It's just sad," said Renee Williams, executive director of Sex and Family Education Inc., the state's largest abstinence-only organization. SAFE provides instruction in 19 counties, including Jefferson and Shelby counties, and reaches more than 30,000 elementary and high school students annually, Williams said.

On June 30, SAFE anticipates losing federal funding totaling about $200,000 a year. However, it has raised about $220,000 in matching funds and so can continue functioning, said Williams: "We've been doing this before there were federal funds, and we will be doing it afterward."

Others welcome the change. "There appears to be movement toward a broader, healthier sex education message," said Jamie L. Keith, executive director of Alabama Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Sex education programs should still encourage delayed sexual debut until maturity, but they should be supported on the basis of studies proving their efficacy, she said. "The common theme is we want to reduce pregnancy among teenagers."

Back to other news for May 2009

Adapted from:
Birmingham News
05.14.2009; Dave Parks

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.
See Also
More HIV Prevention Policy News on the U.S. South


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