- The Washington Times - Friday, April 1, 2005

A new government Web site gives parents advice on how to convince their children that “abstinence is the healthiest choice.” That’s dictating values, say several organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, who want the site taken down.

But Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, says the Web site, www.4parents.gov, is right on target.

The site was designed for parents who are embarrassed about talking with their children about sex, Mr. Leavitt said in a statement.

“Parents have a tremendous amount of influence on their children, and we want them to talk with their teens about abstinence so that they can stay safe and healthy,” he said.

Promoting abstinence is fine, said Monica Rodriguez of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, but the government should also address the needs of sexually active teenagers, both heterosexual and homosexual, and those who have been sexually abused.

“By and large, it’s a Web site that believes in abstinence until marriage,” said Miss Rodriguez, whose advocacy group promotes comprehensive sexual education. “Everything on the Web site is designed to promote that value and help parents communicate that value to their children.”

The sexuality council, the ACLU, the National Education Association and more than 100 other advocacy groups are asking HHS to take down the Web site.

Bill Pierce, an HHS spokesman, said he was not surprised certain groups dislike the site, but said, “One thing we do know about abstinence is that if you practice it, you will not have an unintended pregnancy or risk catching a sexually transmitted disease.”

The site advises parents to tell their teens why they should not have sex: “Tell them why waiting for sex until they are married is the healthiest choice.”

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