By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
WASHINGTON – George W. Bush has pushed funding for abstinence-only sex education programs since taking office in 2001. Not only do such programs deny youth the information they need to make informed choices about their sexuality, because they stress abstinence until marriage, they discriminate against lesbian and gay youth who aren’t allowed to marry.
In December 2004, Congressman Henry Waxman’s office prepared a report on abstinence-only programs which found that not only do these programs “promote abstinence from sexual activity without teaching basic facts about education,” but over 80 percent of the programs “contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.” These programs were used by over two-thirds of grantees in 2003.
According to a spokeswoman for Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick, who sits on the subcommittee responsible for the issue, the committee has voted to approve an $11 million increase for abstinence-only programs for 2006.
Cass Varner, youth coordinator for Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center, was disheartened by the news of the increase.
“I think that Congress should spend a little more time in the classroom, or at least spend some time finding out what these youth are actually doing,” she said. “By not teaching the risks of unhealthy sexual behavior, by not facing the reality of the situation, they’re putting our youth in danger.”
“I don’t know if they’re spending too much time in session to face what’s really going on,” she added, “but the fact is that there are millions of gay kids, and they need attention and they need education whether they choose to have sex or they don’t.”
Contact Michigan’s U.S. Senators and your Representative and tell them that you want your tax dollars to fund comprehensive sex education, not abstinence-only programs that discriminate against LGBT youth.
Senator Carl Levin – 269 Russell Office Building, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510-2202. Call 202-224-6221. Email Senator Levin by visiting the Contact Center on his website at http://www.senate.gov/~levin.
Senator Debbie Stabenow – 133 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510; Call 202-224-4822 or TTY: 202-224-2066 or e-mail [email protected].
To find your U.S. Representative, visit Project Vote Smart at http://www.vote-smart.org or call the U.S. Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.