The state of Maine will no longer take federal funding for abstinence-based sex education, because federal guidelines for using the funds disallow the teaching of safe-sex practices. California and Pennsylvania previously turned down the federal monies because of the restrictions put on them. Since 1998, Maine had accepted the funds—about $160,000-$175,000 annually—and used them primarily for public service announcements showing teenagers praising abstinence. Under newly tightened rules, though, the state must promote only abstinence, and not deliver comprehensive sex education.
“We hope Maine’s decision sends a message to the many other states that have been grappling with whether or not to continue accepting these restrictive dollars…requiring them to fund programs that deny young people life-savings information and skills,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS). Maine’s program of comprehensive sex education has been in place since the mid-1980s, and the state’s teen pregnancy rate is one of the lowest in the nation (1 in 27, as of 2003).