Rhode Island Blocks Abstinence-Only Programs

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) recently instructed all public school districts to stop using a federally funded abstinence-only sex education program called “Right Time, Right Place,” which was developed by Heritage of Rhode Island and was taught in two school districts last year. Heritage of Rhode Island had a federal three-year grant which provided $400,200 each year, and had presented their abstinence curriculum to over 600 students in the state. The Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against the program last fall, saying the program contained sexist stereotypes, religious content, an invasive survey, and did not live up to the state’s sex education standards.

In its letter to superintendents, RIDE wrote that the Heritage program did not comply with state standards for health education, and further required all districts to submit their health curriculums and HIV/AIDS curriculums to RIDE for review. It especially called for the submission of any surveys, as a survey associated with the Heritage program was unduly invasive of students’ privacy rights, asking questions about recent sexual activity. Steven Brown, director of Rhode Island ACLU, said in a statement “We are very pleased with the state’s response to the inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars to support discriminatory and religious teachings in public schools. Students deserve facts, not sexism, in their sex ed class.”


ACLU 3/22/06; Boston Globe 3/22/06; RIDE letter, 3/15/06

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