- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Heritage Foundation researchers yesterday cautioned Congress against opening federal funds to “abstinence-plus” programs, because they give only lip service to abstinence messages.

A line-by-line comparison of 18 sex-education curricula shows that abstinence programs “are several galaxies removed from comprehensive sex-education programs,” said Robert Rector, a welfare analyst at the conservative think tank.

The nine “authentic” abstinence programs reviewed by Heritage spent 54 percent of their time on abstinence messages, 17 percent on “healthy relationships and benefits of marriage” and no time promoting contraception.

In contrast, nine “abstinence-plus” sex-education programs spent nearly 29 percent of their time promoting contraception, 25 percent on awareness of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, 25 percent on “general behavioral skills” and 4.7 percent on abstinence.

Funding for abstinence education, currently at about $167 million, has more than doubled since President Bush took office and is up an additional $39 million in the fiscal 2006 budget that was released this week.

Sex-education supporters who oppose abstinence-only approaches have lobbied Congress to rewrite the strict definitions for abstinence education, so the money can be used for “abstinence-plus” approaches.

Another approach is to call for federal funds earmarked only for comprehensive sex education. Democrats Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Rep. Barbara Lee of California are scheduled to introduce such a bill tomorrow.

There are no dedicated federal funding programs for comprehensive-sex education, say leaders of Advocates for Youth and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

The Lautenberg-Lee bills will ask for $206 million a year for sex education that teaches “medically accurate information about both abstinence and contraception,” the sex-education advocates said.

The nine “abstinence-plus” programs analyzed by Heritage Foundation include AIDS Prevention for Adolescents in School; Becoming a Responsible Teen; Be Proud! Be Responsible!; Focus on Kids; Get Real About AIDS; Reducing the Risk; Safer Choices; Teen Talk; and Teen Outreach Program.

The nine abstinence programs are Choosing the Best Life; Game Plan; Heritage Keepers; No Apologies; Operation Keepsake; Sex Respect; Teen-Aid; WAIT Training; and WhykNOw.

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