Abstinence-Only Leader Appointed to Key HHS Leadership Role

June 6, 2017

Abstinence-Only Leader Appointed to Key HHS Leadership Role
Trump Administration continues to signal belief that science is unnecessary for advancing health

SIECUS is angry and appalled, though no longer surprised, at the appointment of the leader of the abstinence-only-until-marriage movement, Valerie Huber, as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary for Health for the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Trump Administration continues to demonstrate their complete disregard and disdain for science and human rights with the appointment of an individual who has an ethically questionable history and ties to anti-LGBTQ advocates in a leadership position within HHS,” says Chitra Panjabi, President & CEO.

As both the President and CEO of Ascend (formerly the National Abstinence Education Association) and Ohio’s “abstinence education” coordinator, Valerie Huber pushed a religiously-motivated agenda to promote false and misleading information about sexual health and deny young people the education and skills they need to lead healthy lives.

“The people served by the programs within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary deserve more than a science-denialist who has built a career on perpetuating fear, shame, and stigma of sexuality for our nation’s young people.”

Under Valerie Huber’s direction, abstinence-only-until-marriage proponents have attacked advances on federal investments in programs that rely on evidence and science to promote adolescent sexual health and support youth in preventing HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy. One such investment, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, administered by the Office of Adolescent Health which is under the purview of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, has been a particular target for Huber’s lies and misrepresentation of the facts, with Ascend routinely calling for the program’s elimination.

“It is inconceivable that the woman who has led the charge to eliminate the medically accurate and evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program has been placed in a leadership position to influence its future by this Administration,” said Panjabi.

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