Utah State Profile Fiscal Year 2007
The Department of Health and community-based organizations in Utah received $888,156 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007. 1
Utah state code mandates that the State Board of Education establish curriculum requirements in grades eight through twelve for the prevention of communicable diseases. This instruction must stress “the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage and fidelity after marriage as methods for preventing certain communicable diseases; and personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.”
Among other limitations on what can be taught, the code states that:
At no time may instruction be provided, including responses to spontaneous questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or encourage the violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or adult.
Utah state code further requires that materials used for instruction in health do not include “the advocacy of homosexuality; the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage.”
Utah state code requires that each newly hired or newly assigned educator who teaches or who will be teaching any part of a sexuality education class must attend a state-sponsored course offered annually that outlines the state designed curriculum and Utah Code regarding the teaching of human sexuality.
The Utah Health Education Core, a suggested curriculum framework produced by the Utah State Office of Education, provides greater detail regarding grade level and topics to be included. The Health Education Core states that in grades three through twelve, students should receive disease prevention and HIV/AIDS education. Beginning in grade seven, students should receive instruction that abstinence is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Also, an annual presentation about adoption should be given to students in grades seven through twelve.
Schools are not required to follow this framework. However, the Utah State Code requires that local school districts have a curriculum materials review committee. This Committee must make sure that all instructional material complies:
[W]ith state law and state board rules emphasizing abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage, and prohibiting instruction in:
Curricula must be adopted after “an open and regular” school board meeting in which parents and guardians have an opportunity to testify about the curricula.
Parents or guardians must give written permission in order for a student to participate in any form of sexuality education. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.
See Utah State Code 53A-13-101, Utah Administrative Rule R277-474, and the Health Education Core.
Legislation Restricts Existence of Clubs Related to “Human Sexuality” on School Grounds
House Bill 236, introduced in January of 2007, allows schools to limit or deny authorization of school building use to a club if the club involves “human sexuality.” The bill defines clubs that “involve human sexuality” as “presenting information in violation of laws governing sex-education, advocating or engaging in sexual activity outside of legally recognized marriages or forbidden by state law, or presenting or discussing information relating to the use of contraceptive devices or substances, regardless of whether the use is for purposes of contraception or personal health.” The bill passed in both the House and the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., on March 9, 2007.
SIECUS is not aware of any recent events regarding sexuality education in Utah.
Utah’s Youth: Statistical Information of Note
The Utah Department of Health received $288,156 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. Utah matches the federal funding with $196,595 in state funds.
The Utah Department of Health oversees this funding and provides grants to seven sub-grantees: Bear River Health Department, Colors of Success, Community Building Community Initiative of Midvale City, Pregnancy Resource Center of Salt Lake, Tooele County Health Department, Wasatch City-County Health Department, and Worldwide Organization of Women. An advisory council consisting of staff from the Utah Department of Health and sub-grantee organizations provides guidance on the programs. Utah’s sub-grantees are required to perform a self-evaluation of their programs.
Bear River Health Department provides abstinence programming to young people ages 9–14 using the commercially available curricula, 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.”3
The Pregnancy Resource Center of Salt Lake is a crisis pregnancy center. 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. This sub-grantee uses a locally developed curriculum entitled “Why Wait?”
Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees
There is one CBAE grantee in Utah: Weber-Morgan Health Department. There are no AFLA grantees in Utah. Weber-Morgan Health Department conducts the “Future Method: It’s Your Choice” abstinence-only-until-marriage program.4 This program incorporates the FACTS: Family Accountability Communicating Teen Sexuality curricula.5 SIECUS reviewed the FACTS: Family Accountability Communicating Teen Sexuality curricula and found that they provide incomplete and inaccurate medical information; present opinions and beliefs as universal truths; and portray a biased view of gender, marriage, family structure, sexual orientation, and pregnancy options. For example, FACTS includes the following list of negative consequences of premarital sex: “Pregnancy, financial aspect of fatherhood, abortion, HIV/AIDS, STDs, guilt, rejection, loss of reputation, inability to bond in the future, challenge to not compare future sexual partners, alienation from friends and family, poverty, and the inability to complete school.” FACTS also tells young people in no uncertain terms that life begins when sperm and egg meet: “At conception, the baby came into being. Even though he or she was only the size and appearance of a pencil dot, the baby was a separate, genetically unique individual.”6
Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007
Adolescent Health Contact7