New York, NY -- The Healthy Teens Campaign of Florida and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), released Sex Education in the Sunshine State: How Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Are Keeping Florida’s Youth in the Dark, which outlines the status of sex education and failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Florida. The report found that young people in Florida are currently experiencing some of the worst sexual health outcomes in the country, and are also subjected to ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs more than youth in any other state with the exception of Texas.
Florida holds the third highest AIDS rate in the United States and young people are increasingly impacted by the high rate of HIV infection. In 2007, persons under the age of 25 accounted for 15 percent of new HIV infections in the state. Adolescent pregnancy and childbearing are also major health concerns in Florida. The state’s teen pregnancy rate is the 6th highest in the nation and the teen birth rate also increased in 2006 for the first time in 15 years.
“Florida’s young people are paying the price for keeping failed programs afloat,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS. “Florida can continue to fund failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, or it can face up to the reality that, in order to address the challenges its young people are facing, it is necessary to bring a comprehensive approach of sex education to the state.”
Florida received $13,101,054 in federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding for Fiscal Year 2008. This is the second highest amount of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding for all states and territories. Since 2002 alone, nearly $64 million in federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds have been dumped into Florida. Florida is also one of the states that continues to participate in the discredited abstinence-only-until-marriage funding made available by the federal government. Nearly half the states have abandoned the failed program. There are 32 entities in Florida that provide abstinence-only-until-marriage programs throughout the state, including faith-based groups, crisis pregnancy centers and the extreme right-wing.
While a 2007 study commissioned by the federal government showed that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are ineffective, many of these national, harmful programs have established themselves in Florida and across the South. These programs have many flaws including withholding basic information about how effective condoms can be, promoting heterosexual marriage as the only acceptable lifestyle, fostering discriminating gender myths, relying on messages of fear and shame, and providing outdated materials. The report released today takes an in depth look at the way these programs affect Florida youth. The report includes numerous examples from abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that underscore how programs are using fear and shame tactics to scare students, promoting offensive and antiquated gender stereotypes that discriminate against girls and boys both, providing outright inaccurate information, and using outdated materials.
“This report shows that some schools are providing material that is twenty years old and others are telling students that condoms fail nearly 40% of the time,” continued Smith. “The time for experimenting with millions and millions of our tax dollars and the future of our young people is over and Florida needs to join the national shift toward a comprehensive approach to sex education.”
The full report can be found at www.siecus.org. For more information, please contact Patrick Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212)819-9770 ext. 316.