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Alabama State Profile Fiscal Year 2008

The Department of Public Health and community-based organizations in Alabama received $3,641,853 in federal funds for  abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2008.[1]

(Click Here for a PDF Version of this Document)

 
 
 
Alabama Code sets minimum requirements for what must be taught in sexuality education classes. Among other things, classes must teach that:
  • abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only completely effective protection against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) when transmitted sexually; and
  • abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage is the expected social standard for unmarried school-age persons.
 
The Code also states that:
  • course materials and instruction that relate to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should be age-appropriate;
  • course materials and instruction that relate to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should emphasize the importance of self-control and ethical conduct pertaining to sexual behavior;
  • statistics used must be based on the latest medical information that indicate the degree of reliability and unreliability of various forms of contraception, while also emphasizing the increase in protection against pregnancy and protection against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS infection, which is afforded by the use of various contraceptive measures; and
  • classes must emphasize, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.[2]
 
In Alabama, curriculum content is developed locally; however, Alabama’s Course of Study: Health Education provides the foundation for the minimum content requirements for topics such as HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy prevention. In addition, in July 1987, the Alabama State Board of Education passed the Resolution to Provide Information to Students to Prevent the Spread of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Disease in the Public Schools of Alabama. This resolution specifies that students in grades five to 12 must receive instruction about AIDS through a health education program.
 
Parents or guardians may remove their children from sexuality education and/or STD/HIV education classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
 
See Alabama State Code Section 16-40A-2, the Alabama Course of Study: Health Education, and the Resolution to Provide Information to Students to Prevent the Spread of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Disease in the Public Schools of Alabama.
 
 

Recent Legislation

Legislation to Inform Parents of Female Students about Immunization for the Human Papillomavirus
House Bill 862, introduced in April 2008, would have required the State Board of Health to provide information to the parent or legal guardian of every female student entering the sixth grade regarding the link between cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus infection as well as the availability of immunization against the disease. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Health where it died. An identical bill, House Bill 42, has been pre-filed for the 2009 legislative session.
 
 
Alabama’s Youth: Statistical Information of Note[3]
  • In 2005, 47% of female high school students and 55% of male high school students in Alabama reported ever having had sexual intercourse compared to 46% of female high school students and 48% of male high school students nationwide.
     
  • In 2005, 5% of female high school students and 13% of male high school students in Alabama reported having had sexual intercourse before age 13 compared to 4% of female high school students and 9% of male high school students nationwide.
     
  • In 2005, 10% of female high school students and 21% of male high school students in Alabama reported having had four or more lifetime sexual partners compared to 12% of female high school students and 17% of male high school students nationwide.
     
  • In 2005, 38% of female high school students and 38% of male high school students in Alabama reported being currently sexually active (defined as having had sexual intercourse in the three months prior to the survey) compared to 35% of female high school students and 33% of male high school students nationwide.
     
  • In 2005, among those high school students who reported being currently sexually active, 60% of females and 65% of males in Alabama reported having used condoms the last time they had sexual intercourse compared to 56% of females and 70% of males nationwide.
     
  • In 2005, among those high school students who reported being currently sexually active, 17% of females and 18% of males in Alabama reported having used birth control pills the last time they had sexual intercourse compared to 21% of females and 15% of males nationwide.
     
  • In 2005, among those high school students who reported being currently sexually active, 15% of females and 30% of males in Alabama reported having used alcohol or drugs the last time they had sexual intercourse compared to 19% of females and 28% of males nationwide.
     
  • In 2005, 88% of high school students in Alabama reported having been taught about AIDS/HIV in school compared to 88% of high school students nationwide.
     
 
Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding
  • Alabama received $939,337 in federal Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding in Fiscal Year 2008.
  • The Title V abstinence-only-until marriage grant requires states to provide three state-raised dollars or the equivalent in services for every four federal dollars received. The state match may be provided in part or in full by local groups.
  • In Alabama, the state match is provided through in-kind funds.
  • The Bureau of Family Health Services of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) controls these funds through the Alabama Abstinence-Until-Marriage Education Program (AAEP).
  • There are seven Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage sub-grantees in the state: one government entity, one medical center, and five community-based organizations.
 
SIECUS has compiled some examples of the use of federal Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding in Alabama:
 
State Media Campaign: “Doin’ It Doesn’t Get It! Save Sex for Marriage!” $306,495 (2008)
AAEP uses the slogan, “Doin’ It Doesn’t Get It! Save Sex for Marriage!” for its abstinence-only-until-marriage program and manages a statewide media campaign under the same name. The goals of the program are to “teach and promote abstinence-until-marriage from all types of sexuality activity” and to “reduce the occurrence of out-of-wedlock sexual activity among adolescents ages 10 to 19 years of age, thereby, reduce the occurrence of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease and the consequent social, psychological and physical problems.” AAEP distributes abstinence-only-until-marriage funding to seven sub-grantees in the state, which allows these community-based organizations to provide abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to approximately 42,000 young people in 39 out of Alabama’s 67 counties.
      The AAEP website contains misinformation and messages of fear and shame. In the “Why Wait?” section of the program’s website, a message geared toward youth states, “You deserve the great things that waiting for marriage can bring and the life-changing consequences (i.e. STDs, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, deeper emotional hurt, not reaching future personal/educational/career goals) it can prevent…Sure, everyone wants to fit in and be ‘cool,’ but you don’t have to make mistakes to make friends.”[4]  The focus on negative outcomes is clearly designed to scare students rather than educate them.
      The website also provides biased and inaccurate information about the transmission of STDs and HIV. For example, a chart on the website claims that there is ‘no clinical proof” that condoms protect against the transmission of Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, syphilis, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV). It also states that there is “no clinical proof of effectiveness” of condoms against transmission of gonorrhea for women and only “some risk reduction” for men.[5] In fact, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and trichomoniasis.[6] In addition, condoms can protect against HPV. According to a University of Washington study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, consistent condom use can cut a woman’s risk of infection of HPV by 70 percent and protect her from developing precancerous cervical changes.[7]
 
Crittenton Youth Services, $90,086 (2008) and $525,763 (CBAE 2007–2012)
Crittenton Youth Services is a dual grantee which receives funding from both the state’s Title V federal abstinence-only-until-marriage grant and the federal government’s Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) funding stream. In 2006, 73 percent of the organization’s budget came from federal abstinence-only-until-marriage dollars.[8]
      Crittenton Youth Services operates both middle and high school programs in the Mobile, Alabama school district. The agency trains teachers and monitors their progress in delivering abstinence-only-until-marriage programming. It also provides abstinence-only programming to students. In high school, Crittenton Youth Services uses a popular abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum, ASPIRE: Live your life. Be free. SIECUS reviewed Aspire and found that it is based on one set of values and opinions—that marriage should be everyone’s ultimate goal and that sex outside of marriage is wrong—which it tries to pass off as universally held truths. In an effort to convince students that these opinions are facts, the curriculum provides incomplete and biased information, promotes fear and shame, and undermines young people’s confidence in their own decision-making abilities. For example, students are asked which life decision—college, career, or marriage—will have the most impact on their life. The answer is marriage because “College is for a few years, and you may have a number of careers. But marriage is for life.”[9]
      In addition to using Aspire, Crittenton Youth Services uses The Choice Game in high school classrooms. The Choice Game is an interactive CD/DVD software program, created by Several Sources, that teaches “healthy choices” about abstinence, drugs, alcohol, and teen pressures. Several Sources has produced two versions of this resource: an “urban version” and a “Midwestern version.”[10] Both versions include a section on teen pregnancy. On the website, the urban version follows a young pregnant woman of color as she attempts to decide if she will marry, put the child up for adoption, or raise the child alone. Abortion is not discussed as an option. The young woman is shown as having no support until the home for pregnant teens (which Several Sources also runs) steps in—her grandmother cannot help her raise the child because “you know that landlord won’t have no babies,” her boyfriend leaves to join the Navy, and her boyfriend’s mother doubts if her son is the father. The Midwest version does not deal with unintended pregnancies, instead stating that this “curriculum has as its exclusive purpose to teach abstinence and is consistent with the abstinence-until-marriage message.”[11] While it is often appropriate to create culturally competent curricula geared to the specific population or community in which the program will be used, the double standard implied by these two versions is disturbing. Several Sources seems to suggest that while young people in the Midwest have the ability to decide to save sex for marriage thereby avoiding unintended pregnancies, their “urban” counterparts do not and will be left to deal with the consequences.
 
Sex and Family Education, Inc. (S.A.f.E.), $212,096 (2008)
Sex and Family Education (S.A.f.E), Inc. operates in 21 counties in Alabama and receives the most funding of any of the state’s Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage sub-grantees. In 2007, 47 percent of the organization’s budget came from Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage dollars.[12] The organization provides “curricula, instructional materials, and training to hundreds of organizations worldwide.”[13] It offers classroom instructors for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to public and private schools, adult/parent seminars, and continuing education for medical professionals. The organization also provides speakers for community and church events.[14]
      One of the curricula available from S.A.f.E., Inc., You are Unique—Choosing Abstinence Because I’m Worth It!, is designed for public school students ages 12 to 15. The program features three 50-minute sessions in which “adolescents are given clear, accurate information on the emotional and physical consequences of premarital sex and the emotional and physical benefits of waiting until marriage.” Another curricula provided by the organization is Sex & Cents—The Cost of Sexual Behavior. This 50-minute session “focuses on the personal and social economic gains of a successful marriage and the personal and social economic costs of marriage failure.”[15]
 
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Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees

  • There are four CBAE grantees in Alabama: Charles Henderson Memorial Association (d.b.a. Charles Henderson), Crittenton Youth Services, New Hope Baptist Church, and Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS (TEARS).
  • There are no AFLA grantees in Alabama.
 
SIECUS has compiled some examples of the use of federal CBAE and AFLA abstinence-only-until-marriage funding in Alabama:
 
New Hope Baptist Church, $600,000 (CBAE 2006–2011)
The outreach ministry of New Hope Baptist Church conducts the Birmingham Abstinence Education Program “Choosing Health and Abstinence Makes Positive Solutions (C.H.A.M.P.S.),” an abstinence-only-until-marriage program that reaches public school students grades six–12 in the Birmingham City School System. The program’s purpose is “to help students realize that choosing abstinence until marriage is the healthiest choice for them.”[16]
      Facilitators from the church provide two week programs to students using the Choosing the Best curricula.[17] The Choosing the Best series is one of the more popular abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the country. The series is comprised of a number of curricula for students from sixth grade through high school: Choosing the Best WAY, Choosing the Best PATH, Choosing the Best LIFE, Choosing the Best JOURNEY, and Choosing the Best SOULMATE. The series has been recently revised and the information about STDs is now medically accurate. However, Choosing the Best curricula continue to promote heterosexual marriage, rely on messages of fear and shame, and include biases about gender, sexual orientation, and pregnancy options. For example, Choosing the Best PATH asks students to brainstorm the “emotional consequences” of premarital sex. Suggested answers include “guilt, feeling scared, ruined relationships, broken emotional bonds.”[18] 
 
Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS (TEARS), Inc., $350,405 (CBAE 2005–2008) and $486,137 (CBAE 2008–2013)  
Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS (TEARS), Inc. offers a number of youth services including counseling, school-based programs, martial arts, dance, and Positive Peers, a “support group for youth choosing abstinence and positive choices.”[19] Through the support group, adolescents learn sexual refusal skills “to help them maintain and enhance their life and community.”[20] The organization’s objectives include teaching youth that “all choices have consequences.”[21] TEARS operates in Russell County, Phenix City, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia, and created the abstinence program “Abstinence Education To Help Instill Character (A-ETHICS),” which the organization provides to schools, detention centers, and community-based organizations.[22] In 2006, 100 percent of the organization’s budget came from federal abstinence-only-until-marriage dollars.[23]
      The abstinence program uses two curricula: Choosing the Best and WAIT (Why Am I Tempted) Training.[24] SIECUS reviewed WAIT Training and found that it contained little medical or biological information and almost no information about STDs, including HIV/AIDS. Instead, it contains information and statistics about marriage, many of which are outdated and not supported by scientific research. It also contains messages of fear and shame and biased views of gender, sexual orientation, and family type. For example, WAIT Training explains, “men sexually are like microwaves and women sexually are like crockpots…. A woman is stimulated more by touch and romantic words. She is far more attracted by a man’s personality while a man is stimulated by sight. A man is usually less discriminating about those to whom he is physically attracted.”[25](See the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage section for information on Choosing the Best).
      TEARS’ Positive Peers program operates in public middle and high schools in Russell County. Schools that participate in the program include Central High School, Opelika High School, Russell County High School, and South Girard Junior High School. The program closes with an “Abstinence Graduation” ceremony in which students who choose abstinence sign a pledge and receive a WAIT ring. In some cases local state officials attend this ceremony, including Alabama State Representative Lesley Vance (D-Phenix City).[26]
      Research found that 88 percent of young people who took a virginity pledge ultimately had sexual intercourse before marriage. Under certain conditions these pledges may help some adolescents delay sexual intercourse. When they work, pledges help this select group of adolescents delay the onset of sexual intercourse for an average of 18 months—far short of marriage. Researchers found that pledges only worked when taken by a small group of students. Pledges taken by a whole class were ineffective. More importantly, the studies also found that those young people who took a pledge were one-third less likely to use contraception when they did become sexually active than their peers who had not pledged. These teens are therefore more vulnerable to the risks of unprotected sexual activity such as unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV/AIDS. Further research has confirmed that although some students who take pledges delay intercourse, ultimately they are equally as likely to contract an STD as their non-pledging peers. The study also found that STD rates were higher in communities where a significant proportion (over 20 percent) of young people had taken virginity pledges.[27]
 
 

Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2008

Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Grantee
Length of Grant
Amount of Grant
Type of Grant (includes Title V, CBAE, AFLA, and other funds)
Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)
 
 

  

  $939,337 Federal

Title V
Alabama Cooperative Extension System
 
 

 $103,752

Title V sub-grantee
Circle of Care Center for Families
 
 $69,036
Title V sub-grantee
Crittenton Youth Services
 
DUAL GRANTEE
 
2007–2012
 $90,086
 
 
  $525,763
Title V sub-grantee
CBAE
Dale County Abstinence Advocacy Council
 $66,212
 
 
Title V sub-grantee
 
Lee County Youth Development Center
 
 
 $92,650
Title V sub-grantee
Sex and Family Education (S.A.f.E.), Inc.
 
 
 $212,096
Title V sub-grantee
Troy Regional Medical Center/AIM Project d.b.a. Wright & Associates
 
 $89,096
Title V sub-grantee
Charles Henderson Memorial Association (d.b.a. Charles Henderson)
2006–2011
 $740,211
 
 
CBAE
 
 
New Hope Baptist Church
2006–2011
 $600,000
CBAE
Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS (TEARS), Inc.
2005–2008
 $350,405
CBAE
 
DUAL GRANTEE
2008–2013
 $486,137
CBAE

 
 
Adolescent Health Contact[28]
Sandy Powell
Alabama Department of Public Health
Main Office RSA Tower
201 Monroe St., Suite 1350
Montgomery, AL 36104
Phone: (334) 206-2901
 
 
Alabama Organizations that Support Comprehensive Sexuality Education

ACLU of Alabama
207 Montgomery Street, Suite 825
Montgomery, AL 36101
Phone: (334) 265-2754
AIDS Action Coalition of North Alabama
600 St. Clair Avenue, Building 6, Suite 14
Huntsville, AL 35801
Phone: (256) 536-4700
AIDS Alabama
P.O. Box 55703
3521 7th Avenue
S. Birmingham, AL 35222
Phone: (205) 324-9822
 
Planned Parenthood of Alabama
1211 27th Place S
Birmingham, AL 35205
Phone: (205) 322-2121
 

 
Alabama Organizations that Oppose Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Alabama Citizens for Life
P.O. Box 184
Montgomery, AL 36101
Phone: (334) 666-6805
www.al4life.com
Alabama Policy Institute
402 Office Park Drive, Suite 300
Birmingham, AL 35223
Phone: (205) 870-9900
 
The Alabama Pro-Life Coalition Education Fund
1401 Doug Baker Boulevard,
Suite 107, Box 222
Birmingham, AL 35242
Phone: (205) 335-1194
 
National Physicians Center for Family Resources
P.O. Box 59692
Birmingham, AL 35259
Phone: (205) 870-0234

Newspapers in Alabama[29]

Birmingham News
Newsroom
P.O. Box 2553
Birmingham, AL 35202
Phone: (205) 325-2444
 
Dothan Eagle
Newsroom
227 N. Oates Street
Dothan, AL 36303
Phone: (334) 792-3141
Decatur Daily
Newsroom
201 1st Avenue SE
Decatur, AL 35601
Phone: (256) 340-2433
 
Huntsville Times
Newsroom
P.O. Box 1487
Huntsville, AL 35807
Phone: (256) 532-2620
Gadsden Times
Newsroom
401 Locust Street
Gadsden, AL 35901
Phone: (256) 549-2000
Montgomery Advertiser
Newsroom
425 Molton Street
Montgomery, AL 36104
Phone: (334) 551-0308
Mobile Register
Newsroom
401 N. Water Street
Mobile, AL 36602
Phone: (251) 219-5454
 
Tuscaloosa News
Newsroom
315 28th Avenue
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Phone: (205) 722-0207
Times Daily
Newsroom
219 W. Tennessee Street
Florence, AL 35630
Phone: (256) 740-5743
 

 
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[1]This refers to the federal government’s fiscal year, which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; for example, Fiscal Year 2008 began on October 1, 2007 and ended on September 30, 2008. 
[2] In 2003, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in Lawrence v. Texas which declared state laws criminalizing homosexual behavior to be unconstitutional.
[3] Unless otherwise cited, all statistical information comes from: Danice K. Eaton, et al., “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2005,” Surveillance Summaries, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 55, no. SS-5 (9 June 2006): 1-108, accessed 26 January 2007, <http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htmhttp://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm>. Note: Alabama did not participate in the 2007 YRBS. 
[4] “Why Wait Until Marriage?” The Alabama Department of Public Health, accessed 11 September 2008, <http://www.adph.org/abstinence/Default.asp?id=1246>. 
[5] “Condom Effectiveness,” The Alabama Department of Public Health, accessed 11 September 2008, <http://www.adph.org/abstinence/Default.asp?id=1245>. 
[6] “Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel: Male Latex Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services, (January 2003), accessed 3 May 2008, <http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/od/condoms.pdf>. 
[7] Rachel Winer, Ph.D., “Condom Use and the Risk of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women,” New England Journal of Medicine 354.25 (2006): 2645-2654.
[8] Crittenton Youth Services, IRS 990 Form, 2006, p. 1. 
[9] Scott Phelps, Aspire. Live your life. Be Free. (Arlington, IL: Abstinence & Marriage Resources, 2006). For more information, see SIECUS’ review of Aspire at <http://www.communityactionkit.org/curricula_reviews.html>.
[10] “The Choice Game,” Several Sources Foundation, (2005-2007), accessed 5 March 2008, <http://www.thechoicegame.com/>. 
[11] Ibid.
[12] Sex and Family Education (S.A.f.E.), Inc., IRS 990 Form, 2006, p. 1. 
[13] “S.A.f.E., Inc.,” Sex and Family Education (S.A.f.E.), Inc., accessed 10 September 2008, <http://www.sexandfamilyeducation.org/index.html>. 
[14] “Mission,” Sex and Family Education (S.A.f.E.), Inc., accessed 10 September 2008, <http://www.sexandfamilyeducation.org/mission.html>. 
[15] “Resources,” Sex and Family Education (S.A.f.E.), Inc., accessed 10 September 2008, <http://www.sexandfamilyeducation.org/services.html>.
[16] “Welcome to BirminghamChamps.com,” Birmingham Abstinence Education Program, (C.H.A.M.P.S.), accessed 10 September 2008, <http://www.birminghamchamps.com/>.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Bruce Cook, Choosing the Best (Marietta, GA: Choosing the Best, Inc., 2001-2007).
[19] “Programs,” Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS (TEARS), Inc., accessed 21 November 2008, <http://www.tearsinc.org/programs.php>. 
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] “Contact Us,” Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS (TEARS), Inc., accessed 21 November 2008, <http://www.tearsinc.org/contact.php>; “About TEARS,” Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS (TEARS), Inc., accessed 21 November 2008, <http://www.tearsinc.org/about.php>.
[23] Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS (TEARS), Inc., IRS 990 Form, 2006, p. 1. 
[24] Ibid.
[25] Joneen Krauth-Mackenzie, WAIT (Why Am I Tempted) Training, Second Edition (Greenwood Village, CO: WAIT Training, undated). For more information, see SIECUS’ review of WAIT Training at <http://www.communityactionkit.org/curricula_reviews.html.>
[26] Ibid.
[27] Peter Bearman and Hannah Brückner “Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and the Transition to First Intercourse.” American Journal of Sociology 106.4 (2001): 859-912.; Peter Bearman and Hannah Brückner, “After the promise: The STD consequences of adolescent virginity pledges,” Journal of Adolescent Health 36.4 (2005): 271-278.
[28] SIECUS has identified this person as a state-based contact for information on adolescent health and if applicable, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. 
[29] This section is a list of major newspapers in your state with contact information for their newsrooms. This list is by no means exhaustive and does not contain the local level newspapers which are integral to getting your message out to your community. SIECUS strongly urges you to follow stories about the issues that concern you on the national, state, and local level by using an internet news alert service such as Google alerts, becoming an avid reader of your local papers, and establishing relationships with reporters who cover your issues. For more information on how to achieve your media goals visit the SIECUS Community Action Kit.

 

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