In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) strongly criticized a government website for providing inaccurate and biased information to parents about how to talk with their children about sex and relationships. The letter details the findings of a panel of experts in the fields of reproductive health, infectious disease, and adolescent sexuality and development. The experts concluded that the website gives inaccurate information about sexual transmitted diseases, overstates the failure rate of contraceptive methods, provides biased and potentially harmful messages about lesbian and gay youth, and misleadingly faults single and divorced parents for the country’s so-called social ills.
Waxman further criticizes HHS for not consulting with credible scientific organizations in developing the website, but instead contracting site development to the National Physicians Center for Family Resources, an organization with ties to right-wing organization and individuals like Focus on the Family and Dr. Laura Schlesinger.
After the launch of the website in March of 2005, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SEICUS) sent a letter to Leavitt supported by over 150 organizations, including the Feminist Majority, calling for the website to be taken down. HHS not only failed to address the problems with the website raised by these organizations but has not responded to SEICUS’s letter. Waxman is demanding that HHS remove the website and work with credible scientific organizations to revise its content.
“The content appears to have been guided by ideology, not a commitment to providing parents and teens with reliable information about sex.,” said Waxman. “It is wrong – and ultimately self-defeating – to sacrifice accuracy in an effort to frighten teens and their parents.”