Marking the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the failed Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) released the Fiscal Year 2009 edition of the SIECUS State Profiles: A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States on June 30, 2010. This seventh edition of the State Profiles arrives on the heels of a significant shift in the way the federal government addresses sex education for young people—with the elimination of two-thirds of dedicated abstinence-only-until-marriage funding and the introduction of federal funding for teen pregnancy prevention and comprehensive sex education initiatives totaling nearly $190 million. In recognition of the expiration of the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program, as well as its inexplicable resurrection, this year’s State Profiles mark how far advocates for comprehensive sexuality education have come while also serving as a reminder of the need to remain vigilant in efforts to fully eliminate this continued waste of taxpayer dollars on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
“Advocates for comprehensive sexuality education are finally seeing, and beginning to build upon, the fruits of our labor,” comments Jen Heitel Yakush, director of public policy at SIECUS. “After nearly thirty years of strong support from the federal government for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, the Obama administration and Congress have ushered in a new era of sex education in the United States. This year’s edition mirrors the national shift,” she continued.
While SIECUS continues the tradition of “following the money” by tracking the distribution and use of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds, the State Profiles also highlight more comprehensive approaches to sex education that are happening across the country. For the first time, the SIECUS State Profiles highlight examples of model programs, policies, and best practices being implemented in public schools across the country that provide more comprehensive approaches to sex education for young people. To this end, a new section in each profile, “Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Education,” provides examples under four different categories: Revised State Sex Education Policy, Updated State Health Education Standards, Revised School District Policy, and Comprehensive Sex Education Programs in Public Schools. The content in this year’s State Profiles is by no means a complete list of all comprehensive programming happening across the country, but rather some examples of best practices and model programs that SIECUS has identified thus far.
This year’s edition of the SIECUS State Profiles was compiled through extensive research, monitoring, tracking of state and local developments around comprehensive sexuality education, conversations with state health officials and state advocates, and the solicitation of state and federal records on federal abstinence-only-until-marriage grantees. In addition, newly added features create a more in-depth portrait of each state. Among this edition’s new features are additional youth sexual health statistics detailing current data on teen pregnancy and birth, HIV/AIDS, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and—when available—syphilis for each state; a list of commercially available curricula used by some abstinence-only-until-marriage grantees in each state (when applicable); and a list of progressive political blogs from each state to assist with media outreach efforts. The current edition also includes the very latest in adolescent health statistics from the newly released Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, designed and conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published just weeks before the release of the State Profiles.
Major trends and highlights from the Fiscal Year 2009 edition are as follows:
- There were eight states that did not receive any federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding in Fiscal Year 2009: Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming.
- During their 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions, 18 states introduced legislation to require that sexuality education provided in public schools be medically accurate, age-appropriate, and include instruction on both abstinence and contraception, among other topics. States that introduced such legislation were diverse in geography, size, and political leanings.
- SIECUS research has found that there are school districts in at least 21 states and the District of Columbia that provide more comprehensive sex education programs to students.
- By the time the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program expired on June 30, 2009, 23 states and the District of Columbia had rejected these federal funds.
- The five states receiving the highest amounts of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding in Fiscal Year 2009 include: Texas ($10,225,188), Georgia ($9,986,442), Florida ($8,960,656), Illinois ($7,951,804), and Ohio ($4,948,806).
SIECUS encourages colleague organizations and supporters of sexuality education to use the State Profiles in advocacy efforts geared toward legislators, policy makers, opinion leaders, and the media on national, state, and local levels. “It is our hope that each State Profile will empower individuals and organizations to expand or develop their own advocacy efforts related to comprehensive sexuality education and build upon the best practices provided throughout the State Profiles,” comments Heitel Yakush, adding, “We must remain vigilant in our efforts to provide young people with the information and knowledge they need to be safe and healthy, and give them the tools and skills they need to empower themselves. While we have not yet reached our ultimate goal of comprehensive age- and culturally appropriate, evidence-based sex education for all school-age youth, we have shown that we are on the right track and continue to make progress.”
The Fiscal Year 2009 State Profiles are now available on the SIECUS website at www.siecus.org/FY09stateprofiles.
For more information on expanding or developing state and local advocacy efforts around comprehensive sexuality education, please contact Morgan Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kelsey Van Nice at email@example.com, or by telephone at (202) 265-2405.