States say "no" to abstinence-only

As Congress considers boosting budget for abstinence-only education, a record number of states are rejecting funds.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Published December 18, 2007 10:38AM (EST)

As evidence of the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only programs stacks up, a growing number of states are saying: "Keep the money, please. We don't want it!" At least 14 states are taking a stance against wasting federal funds on sex education programs that not only don't work but are potentially harmful, and are rejecting their share of the $176 million annual budget. As Ned Calonge, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Health, put it: "Why would we spend tax dollars on something that doesn't work?"

In the past, only four states have denied funding. What's more, Ohio and Washington have applied for abstinence-only funds while clearly stating that the money would be directed toward comprehensive sex ed. (Wonder if they'll be approved!) Meanwhile, Congress is mulling President Bush's proposition that we waste yet more federal funds; he's suggested increasing abstinence-only funds by more than $28 million for 2008.

A number of advocates of comprehensive sex ed, like William Smith of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, argue that the growing number of states opting out of abstinence-only coverage is the "canary in the coal mine of what's to come." Here's hoping he's right.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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