Obama, Congress Cut Funding for 176 Abstinence Programs Despite New Study

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Obama, Congress Cut Funding for 176 Abstinence Programs Despite New Study

More than 176 abstinence education programs will lose funding for their outreaches to youth and young adults on September 30 because Congress and the Obama Administration canceled all grants going to abstinence-centered programming in their FY2010 budget. Here are the details from LifeNews.com:
The funding cuts will come even though the Obama administration was forced to reveal the results of a new study showing the effectiveness of abstinence education programs and the support parents have for them.
“We are greatly concerned that the sex education policy being implemented by this administration does not reflect the values of what most parents and teens clearly want,” Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association told LifeNews.com today.
Huber explained that some programs will lose their funding midstream in their five-year grant award.
“This means that nearly two million students will return to school without the skill-building lessons they have come to expect in their abstinence education classes,” she said.
“Teen-sex advocacy groups have pushed for an end to abstinence education funding, despite the fact that a recent HHS study showed most teens and their parents support the core message of the program,” Huber continued.
The study, The National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents, was posted Monday to the HHS website after significant grassroots pressure. It calls into question whether recent sex education policy decisions truly reflect cultural norms or clear evidence-based trends.
According to the findings, about 70% of parents agreed that it is “against [their] values for [their] adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage” and that “having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do.” Adolescents gave similar responses.
Larry McAdoo, executive director of STARS, an abstinence program in Mississippi that will lose funding, also complained about the impending cuts.
“Our state has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. I do not understand why our services to needy teens would be cut short. Mississippi’s teens need more resources, not less,” he said.
“Our abstinence program equips youth with the skills necessary to make healthy choices. Soon, however, Mississippi’s youth will be left without any resources to counter the sexual messages with which they are continually bombarded,” McAdoo added.
Looking further at the study, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of HHS, funded a survey of 1,000 adolescents 12-18 years-old in order to measure parent-adolescent communication and adolescent attitudes toward sex and abstinence.
The study found parents strongly support the concept that sexual relations are best saved for a marital relationship and parents’ attitudes are more important in influencing adolescent views than the level of parent communication with their adolescent.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) highlighted the results on its web site: “Adjusting for all other factors in the model, parent and peer factors are more consistently associated with differences in adolescent attitudes about sex and abstinence than are measures of adolescent exposure to sex and abstinence topics in a class or program.”
However, during an APHA conference, researcher Lisa Rue, Ph.D., who specializes in adolescent behavior, was intrigued by the study and requested the full report. She was denied access and the Obama administration denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for it.
The National Abstinence Education Association responded by encouraging interested persons to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the public release of a study.
“Hundreds submitted the request for openness regarding the study. As a result, HHS posted the entire study report on Monday,” Huber of NAEA said.
Huber concluded in her comments: “It is important that the representative government reflects the desires of its constituents. This study’s findings call for a reinstatement of  funding for abstinence education within the next fiscal budget.”
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