In an effort to ensure that our nation's young people are receiving medically accurate information in human development and sexuality classes, Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jim Moran (D-VA), along with 23 other cosponsors, recently introduced the Guarantee of Medical Accuracy in Sex Education Act (the GMA; HR 5598). The bipartisan bill would prohibit the federal government from providing assistance to any entity whose materials on human sexuality contain medically inaccurate information. This provision would apply to all federally funded human development and sexuality classes.
The GMA stems from the findings of major medical associations—such as the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—which support medical accuracy in health education. It also stems from a recent Congressional review that showed that the most frequently used abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula contain medically inaccurate and misleading information about condom efficacy, pregnancy prevention, and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, among other important issues related to sexual health.
“Simply put, the Bush Administration is using taxpayer money to fund programs that tell young people that condoms don't work to prevent pregnancy or the spread of STDs and that they can contract HIV through sweat and tears,” said William Smith , vice president for public policy at SIECUS. “This wholesale rejection of sound science and the Bush Administration's failure to act to protect our young people's health leaves Congress with no other option but to step in,” Smith continued.
Scaring young adults with false information is not the way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STDs,” said Representative Moran. “In fact, it's dangerous. Misleading the public about the effectiveness of safe sex best practices puts our children at risk. And the government shouldn't be condoning it.”1
In his introduction of the bill on the House floor, Gutierrez stated, “the federal government should not be in the business of funding sex education that is rife with errors and examples of medically inaccurate information.” The Congressman, who introduced a similarly focused bill in the two previous sessions of Congress, urged his colleagues “to support this legislation and join me in ensuring that sex education curricula contain accurate medical information that can help young people develop a healthy understanding of their sexuality, so they can make responsible and educated decisions throughout their lives.”2
Since 1998, close to $1 billion of federal taxpayer money has been spent on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, almost $800 million of which has been spent since 2001. And, the President has proposed another $204 million for Fiscal Year 2007. Despite this level of funding, there is very little oversight of program content and there is no screening to ensure the provision of medically accurate information.
“SIECUS applauds Representatives Gutierrez and Moran for taking this critical step in ensuring that our young people get the accurate information they need to make informed and healthy choices,” Smith said.
- “Bill Requiring Factual, Medically Accurate Sex Ed Information Introduced,” Rep. Moran's Office, Press Release, published 14 June 2006, accessed 22 June 2006, <http://www.moran.house.gov/issues2.cfm?id=11964>.
- “ INTRODUCTION OF THE GUARANTEE OF MEDICAL ACCURACY IN SEX EDUCATION ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 13, 2006 ); Speech of Hon. Luis Gutierrez Of Illinois in the House of Representatives,” accessed 22 June 2006, <http://thomas.loc.gov/cgibin/query/D?r109:1:./temp/~r109c15JlX::>