WASHINGTON (BP) — Not only does President Obama’s proposed 2013 federal budget demonstrate hostility toward the sexual risk avoidance message, but the budget contains an “illegal use of funds” that were intended by Congress for abstinence education, an expert says.
Instead of making Title V abstinence education funding available to states that qualify for the grants, the president’s budget redirects the money to a new program that “will not be limited to the Title V definition of abstinence education,” the National Abstinence Education Association said Feb. 14.
Using Title V funds for programs that do not comply with the federally approved abstinence education definition is a violation of congressional intent and is outside the authority of the budgetary directive, the association said.
“Currently a majority of states accept Title V funding to provide abstinence education and we are seeing more states apply each year,” Valerie Huber, NAEA’s executive director, said. “However, the administration’s attempt to usurp this funding will deny states that opportunity.
“In addition, this breathtaking overreach of executive authority is in clear conflict with legislative guidance and is a blatant example of [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] legislating the reassignment of monies to serve the liberal sex education agenda of special interest groups,” Huber said.
NAEA is asking Congress to correct the “disturbing misuse of power” and ensure that states can continue to promote the sexual risk avoidance message to students.
Obama’s proposed budget, NAEA said, also shows a “blatant ideological bias” against abstinence-centered education by calling for the elimination of the only federal funding stream that supports such teaching.
The 2012 budget contains a 20:1 spending disparity between contraceptive-centered Teen Pregnancy Prevention versus abstinence-centered sex education programs, NAEA said, and the latest budget proposal eliminates even the small amount of abstinence funding that had been available.
“Why would the president want to censor information that helps teens make healthy choices?” Huber said. “It just doesn’t make sense. With nearly 75 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds choosing abstinence, shouldn’t our federal sex education policy reinforce those healthy decisions?
“Instead, President Obama’s request will continue the soft bigotry of low expectations which tells young people they have no ability to make the best choices for their health,” Huber said.
NAEA said 22 peer-reviewed studies confirm that teenagers who participate in successful abstinence-centered programs are more likely to delay sexual initiation or reduce their sexual activity if they are already sexually active, and are no less likely to use a condom if they later become sexually active.
The sexual risk avoidance approach, Huber said, is evidence-based, consistent with other public health messages addressing negative risk behaviors and is the approach supported by most parents and teenagers.
“The administration is wrong-headed in their request to eliminate SRA programs from the FY 2013 budget,” she said. “NAEA urges Congress to ignore the president’s request and instead correct the 20:1 disparity by providing parity between the sexual risk avoidance and sexual risk reduction approaches.”
A report by the Department of Health and Human Services found that 70 percent of parents and nearly as many teenagers supported the abstinence approach, NAEA said.
“Congress has the opportunity and responsibility to strongly support risk avoidance within federal sex education policy,” NAEA said, urging lawmakers to do so, “even in the midst of the president’s aggressive anti-abstinence campaign.”
“It is our hope that the president will not continue to serve the special interests of the radical sex education lobby but instead put America’s youth first,” NAEA said.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).