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Legislation introduced to end abstinence-only funding!

It’s an exciting time for anyone who thinks it’s important for young people to have access to information about sex and sexuality. Yesterday, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced legislation that would finally end federal funding for abstinence-only programs.

The Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act would strike the Title V Abstinence Only Program from the Social Security Act, eliminating $50 million a year in funding for these dangerous programs. Funding would be transferred to the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) state-grant program. PREP programs are evidence-based, required to address both abstinence and contraception and include information about adult preparation topics like healthy relationships, adolescent development, financial literacy, educational and career success and healthy life skills.

As we’ve written about many times here, abstinence-only programs don’t give young people the tools they need to navigate relationships and make informed decisions about their sexual health. They do push a specific ideology that is pro-straight marriage and ignores the needs of queer and trans youth, sexually active youth, and those who have been sexually abused. Since 1996 the federal government has wasted over $1.5 billion on abstinence-only, including programs that studies have shown do not decrease sexual activity but do decrease contraceptive use.

The tide as been turning against abstinence-only programs for a while. Almost half the states have already rejected Title V funding. The funding was almost eliminated through the budget process last year, but conservatives used health care reform to reinstate this attack on young people’s health. This legislation would get rid of the funding stream so we don’t have to go through that sort of waste of time political fight again.

We’ve taken a huge step towards cutting off federal funds for abstinence-only programs. For this legislation to move Senator Lautenberg and Representative Lee need to be joined by other members of congress as cosponsors of the legislation. To take action and encourage your senators and representative to support the bill please click here.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/broadblogs/ Georgia Platts

    Great news! As it is, young people who get abstinence-only “sex ed” are simply more likely to practice unsafe sex. Even young people who get greater “support” from their communities by making virginity pledges only put off sex by 18 months. And then they practice sex more unsafely: no condoms and anal sex (which they don’t label “sex”). But unprotected anal sex is more likely to get the HIV virus into the blood stream. Not to mention vulnerability to all the other STDs – and pregnancy – that condoms could prevent. http://broadblogs.com/