Kansas State Profile Fiscal Year 2007
The Department of Health and Environment and community-based organizations in Kansas received $1,760,378 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007. 1
The Kansas Administrative Regulations require elementary and secondary students to be taught “physical education, which shall include instruction in health and human sexuality.” Kansas does not require schools to follow a specific curriculum; however, the Kansas State Board of Education can suggest guidelines and limitations.
The Kansas Health Education Standards require that each local board of education provide “a complete program of abstinence until marriage in human sexuality that is developmentally appropriate, including information about sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.” The Standards also state that this program must be medically accurate and research-based, and must “include factual information regarding contraception and disease prevention.”
Kansas law does not require parental permission for students to participate in sexuality or HIV/AIDS education nor does it say whether parents or guardians may remove their children from such classes.
See Kansas Administrative Regulation 91-31-32, and Kansas Health Education Standards.
Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation Unlawful Under Bill
Senate Bill 163, introduced in January 2007 to the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs, would have amended the Kansas Act against Discrimination to include the unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The bill died in committee.
Abstinence Plus Education Act Introduced
Senate Bill 508 would have required each school district to provide a “comprehensive education program in human sexuality.” This bill would have required that teachers have “appropriate academic preparation or in-service training to develop a basic knowledge of and sensitivity to the area of human sexuality” and that curricula and related materials be factually and medically accurate as well as age-appropriate. Additionally, it would have created a statewide “opt-out” policy regarding sexuality education classes. The bill was introduced in February 2006 and passed the Senate. It was placed in the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs, where it later died.
Kansas Board of Education Grapples with Sexuality Education
In May 2007, the Kansas Board of Education rewrote guidelines that had been passed in 2006 recommending that schools focus on abstinence until marriage and adopt an opt-in policy for sexuality education classes. The guidelines were not a mandate and districts could still choose a more comprehensive program or an opt-out policy.
Opt-out policies allow children to be removed from sexuality education upon the request of a parent. Such policies typically provide notification to parents about what will be taught in their child’s sexuality education program, including what curriculum is used and who will be teaching the class. Students are automatically enrolled in class unless parents request otherwise. Opt-out policies ensure that parents are informed about their child’s sexuality education classes and that a system is in place to allow them to remove their child from the class without penalty to the young person. The overwhelming majority of states have opt-out policies.
Under an opt-in policy, schools need permission from parents before students can attend the class. Educators fear, however, that some young people may be unable to gain active consent from their parents and that others will simply forget to do so. Only three states, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, require active parental permission for sexuality education.
Health professionals and parents in Kansas expressed concerns about the possible impact of the 2006 guidelines which they felt would limit the likelihood that students would receive sexuality education.2
In part because of decisions like this, the make up of the board changed radically during the 2006 elections with moderates taking the majority. The new board altered many of the policies put in place by the previous conservative board. In May 2007, the Kansas Board of Education voted to adopt new guidelines that no longer ask teachers to stress abstinence until marriage and leave the question of permission slips to district officials.3Like the previous draft, these guidelines are not a mandate.
Task Force Recommends New Sexuality Education Curriculum
The Independence School Board Task Force in Kansas City recommended that the district implement a sexuality education curriculum that discusses abstinence and contraception in all grades.
The task force was formed in response to community members who were concerned by district programs that emphasized abstinence until marriage. The recommendations were presented after the Kansas Board of Education approved a new policy enforcing a statewide abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum.4 (The Kansas Board of Education has since reversed this policy and now recommends comprehensive sexuality education.)5
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment received $337,110 in federal Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding in Fiscal Year 2007. 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 Kansas, sub-grantees are required to make up the match. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment oversees this funding.
The Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds are distributed to nine sub-grantees: Abstinence Education, Inc. (formerly known as Abstinence Education Consultants, Inc.), Catholic Community Services, Community Health Organization Committee, Flint Hills Community Health Center, GPT-Local Area Network, Johnson County Health Department, Olathe School District, S.A.F.E.–Sexuality and Family Education, and Ulysses School District (USD-214).
Several of the sub-grantees use the Choosing the Best abstinence-only-until-marriage series including Community Health Organization Committee, GPT Local Area Network, Inc., S.A.F.E. –Sexuality and Family Education, Ulysses School District (USD-214). SIECUS reviewed two of the curricula produced by Choosing the Best, Inc.—Choosing the Best LIFE (for high school students) and Choosing the Best PATH (for middle school students). These reviews found that the curricula name numerous negative consequences of premarital sexuality activity and suggest that teens should feel guilty, embarrassed, and ashamed of sexual behavior. For example, Choosing the Best LIFE states that, “Relationships often lower the self-respect of both partners—one feeling used, the other feeling like the user. Emotional pain can cause a downward spiral leading to intense feelings of lack of worthlessness.” Choosing the Best PATH says, “Sexual activity also can lead to the trashing of a person’s reputation, resulting in the loss of friends.”7
Abstinence Education, Inc. uses A.C. Green’s Game Plan. SIECUS reviewed this curriculum as well and found that in order to convince high school students to remain abstinent until marriage, the curriculumrelies on messages of fear and shame, inaccurate and misleading information, and biased views of marriage, sexual orientation, and family structure. In addition, Game Plan fails to provide important information on sexual health including how students can seek testing and treatment if they suspect they may have an STD. Finally, the format and underlying biases of the curriculum do not allow for cultural, community, and individual values, and discourage critical thinking and discussions of alternate points of view in the classroom. For example, Game Plan states that, “Even if you’ve been sexually active, it’s never too late to say no. You can’t go back, but you can go forward. You might feel guilty or untrustworthy, but you can start over again.”8
Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Evaluation
Kansas evaluated its Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program in 2004. Five of the six abstinence-only-until-marriage sub-grantees at the time participated in the survey. Students responded to pre- and post-test questions about their attitudes relating to abstinence such as “I will be healthier, happier, and more accepted if I wait until I’m married to have sex” and “I feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to sex.”9
Results revealed that there were “no changes noted for participants’ actual or intended behavior; such as whether they planned to wait until marriage to have sex.”10 The evaluation did reveal negative changes in attitudes; following participation in an abstinence-only-until-marriage program, students surveyed were less likely to respond that the teachers and staff cared about them and significantly fewer students responded that they felt they “have the right to refuse to have sex with someone.”11
The researchers concluded that, “rather than focusing on abstinence-only-until-marriage, data suggests that including information on contraceptive use may be more effective at decreasing teen pregnancies.”12
Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees
There are two CBAE grantees in Kansas: Abstinence Education, Inc. (formerly known as Abstinence Education Consultants, Inc.) and Haven Center, Inc. There are no AFLA grantees in Kansas.
Abstinence Education, Inc., which is also a Title V sub-grantee, states on its website that it “offers programs for teens, young adults, and parents which teach the importance of abstinence as a key ingredient in any healthy lifestyle.”13 The organization created and uses its own abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum, Pure & Simple Lifestyle (PSL), which is taught by “Teen Instructors” in schools, after-school programs, youth-serving organizations, church youth groups, and summer programs.14
One section on the organization’s website is dedicated to pregnancy, and encourages young women who may be pregnant to contact the organization for a referral to a crisis pregnancy center.15 Crisis pregnancy centers typically advertise as providing medical services and then use anti-abortion propaganda, misinformation, and fear and shame tactics to dissuade women facing unintended pregnancy from exercising their right to choose.
Haven Center, Inc. conducts several abstinence-only-until-marriage programs including IGNITE L.A.P.S. (Leadership and Abstinence for Positive Lifestyles), Y.A.P. (Youth Alternatives Program), and Enhancement Support. IGNITE L.A.P.S. consists of five different phases: education, enhancement, equipment, empowerment, and marathon club (youth mentorship).16
Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007
Adolescent Health Contact17