Press

Federal study confirms that abstinence-only programs do not work

Date: 
April 16, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force calls for end to federal support of ‘ideologically driven, harmful and wasteful’ programs

WASHINGTON, April 16 — A report released April 13 and commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirms that federally funded “abstinence-only” sex education programs simply do not work. In fact, out of the 2,000 youth who took part in this longitudinal study, those who participated in abstinence-only programs were no more likely to abstain from sex than their peers who did not participate. This study is the latest in a series of research confirming that abstinence-only programs not only don’t work, but also present youth with dangerous misinformation that could put them at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases.

Over the past five years, similar studies of abstinence-only programs in Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas have all come to the same conclusion. Furthermore, a December 2004 congressional report commissioned by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman found that “over 80 percent of the abstinence-only curricula, used by over two-thirds of [abstinence-only program] grantees in 2003, contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.” In spite of this — and in the absence of any research validating these programs’ effectiveness — Congress has allocated $1.1 billion to these programs through various funding streams since 1996.

The Task Force is one of 287 organizations working with the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. that is urging Congress to let funding for abstinence-only programs expire and instead encourage schools to teach comprehensive programs that provide young people with the information they need to take care of themselves.

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

“Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been utterly wasted on ‘abstinence-only until marriage’ programs. Why? To appease a rabidly vocal minority that cares more about getting our government to promote their religious ideology than they do about the health of young people. ‘Abstinence-only until marriage’ propaganda has been particularly insulting to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people because the most vocal opponents of marriage equality have been abstinence-only’s most vocal proponents. Given this latest study — which confirms multiple other government and privately funded reports — it would be unconscionable for Congress to appropriate one more penny to these thoroughly debunked, ideologically driven, harmful and wasteful programs.

“We join with the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. in calling upon Congress to not renew funding for these programs and instead encourage schools to teach comprehensive programs that provide young people with the information they need to take care of themselves.”

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.