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New Bill Challenges Abstinence-Only Inaccuracies

New legislation introduced in the US House of Representatives would require government-funded sex education classes to use only medically accurate materials. Representatives Lisa Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced the bill, called the Guarantee of Medical Accuracy in Sex Education Act (GMA), in response to research demonstrating the prevalence of misleading information in abstinence-only programs.

According to a 2006 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, 85 percent of commonly used abstinence-only curricula contain medically inaccurate information about the effectiveness of contraception. Almost $1 billion of federal tax money has been spent on abstinence only-education since 1998, and the FY-2007 budget allocates $204 million to be similarly spent. “The Bush Administration is using taxpayer money to fund programs that tell young people that condoms don’t work to prevent pregnancy or the spread of STDs and that they can contract HIV through sweat and tears,” said William Smith, vice president of public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) in a statement hailing the bill’s introduction.

The GMA calls for the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate federally funded sex education programs for their medical accuracy. Programs found to use misleading educational materials would be ineligible for federal funding until changed to reflect scientific fact.

Sources:

Journal of Adolescent Health 6/06, SIECUS press release 6/13/06, Representative Jim MoranÕs website press release 6/14/06