Press

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund responds to omnibus spending bill, calls it “mixed bag”

Date: 
December 19, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358
rsklar@theTaskForce.org

“While we are pleased that funding for irresponsible, wasteful and harmful abstinence-only programs did not increase, it’s a disgrace that even one more penny is going to be spent on them. At the same time, we applaud the increased funding for important runaway and homeless youth programs, the first increase in four years.”
— Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 — The president is expected to sign an omnibus spending bill later this week which contains flat funding for abstinence-only programs, $113.5 million, and a $10.5 million increase for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

“While we are pleased that funding for irresponsible, wasteful and harmful abstinence-only programs did not increase, it’s a disgrace that even one more penny is going to be spent on them. Congress must act next year to kill them once and for all. These programs hurt every kid they touch — especially young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“At the same time, we applaud the increased funding for important runaway and homeless youth programs, the first increase in four years. We will work to make sure that some of this new money will be used to address the epidemic of homelessness among LGBT youth. We are very proud that the report we produced with the National Coalition for the Homeless and aggressive lobbying helped make this increase a reality.”

Background

Abstinence-only

Over $1.5 billion in government funding has been spent on abstinence-only programs since 1982. Repeated publicly funded and private studies have shown these programs are ineffective, do not decrease pre-marital sex or unsafe sexual practices and often contain religious doctrine, inaccurate medical information and harmful stereotypes about LGBT individuals. As a result, at least 14 states plan to refuse federal funding for abstinence-only programs. The Task Force Action Fund believes federal money should instead be used to fund comprehensive sex education, providing our nation’s youth with necessary and accurate information to help them make difficult informed choices about their health.

Runaway & homeless youth

The funding bill also includes a $10.5 million increase for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs, the first increase in four years. Of this increase, $8.3 million would be directed to the RHYA consolidated account, which funds the basic center program, transitional living program and national support activities, raising the total level of the consolidated account to $96.1 million. $2.2 million of the increase would be directed to the street outreach program, raising the total level of this account to $17.2 million.

In January, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless released a comprehensive report, Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness, indicating that while only four to six percent of young people are LGBT, up to 40 percent of all homeless youth are LGBT. The report received widespread media attention. The Task Force Action Fund used the report to aggressively lobby members of Congress to provide additional funds to the homeless youth program.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, founded in 1974 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are not tax deductible.