Obama Administration Launches a Sex Education Program
October 29, 2010
Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $75 million to 75 groups to reproduce 28 sex education programs that have "proven effective through rigorous evaluation." In addition, HHS gave $35 million to 40 groups that will test "innovative strategies" that hold promise for preventing teen pregnancies. Grants went to groups in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
"We were hoping for and hopefully got a healthy mix that will be both spreading evidence-based programs around the country and allow us to identify programs that are as effective or more effective," said Sharon Parrott, human services counselor for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Critics of abstinence-only instruction were dismayed at the inclusion of 12 grants, totaling more than $9.3 million, for such programs. Tallahassee-based Live the Life Ministries received $891,533 to provide "WAIT Training" to 5,500 middle and high school students in 14 Florida counties.
"There is very little information about condoms or other forms of contraception, and what information is there is biased and skewed towards portraying them in a negative light," Monica Rodriguez, who leads the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, said of WAIT Training.
Hampton, Va.-based Lighthouse Outreach received $933,907 to provide "Choosing the Best" for 2,600 youths ages 10-19. Critics, including James Wagoner of D.C.-based Advocates for Youth, say the program includes misleading information about condoms.
More than $1 million went to the Kansas City, Mo.-based Women's Clinic, a pregnancy crisis center that reproductive rights activists say proselytizes against abortion.
Abstinence-only advocates were disappointed, saying that just five "authentic" abstinence programs received funds, for a total less than $5 million. The George W. Bush administration funded 169 abstinence programs that reached more than 1 million students, said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association.
Parrott said programs trying to replicate proven curricula must follow approved courses and undergo independent evaluations.
10.28.2010; Rob Stein
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