In the May 1997 guidelines, MCHB also recommended that states apply the same criteria that resulted from the legal challenge to AFLA to the Title V abstinence-only program; meaning that while faith-based organizations were eligible for funding, they were prohibited from using government money to teach or promote religion.
In addition, while historically the program announcement did not specify the age of intended participants, allowing many states to choose to focus on the importance of delaying sexual initiation among younger youth ages 9–14, the Fiscal Year 2007 guidance stated that Title V-funded programs must focus on individuals ages 12–29. The new focus on older youth and, indeed, those who no longer fall within the category of “youth” at all, went against common sense given that at the time, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 90% of people ages 20 to 29 had sexual intercourse. This change was further evidence that this funding stream was based on a conservative ideology about sex outside of marriage.
Tennessee Law Leaves Many Schools Afraid to Teach …
The study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research over nine years, at a cost of almost $8 million and on behalf of HHS, closely examined four hand-picked programs considered by state officials and “abstinence education” experts to be especially promising.
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The welfare reform law enacted Title V, Section 510(b) of the Social Security Act which established a new federal funding stream to provide grants to states for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
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In addition, this study also reveals some disturbing disparities in what young people are learning. For example, it found that a plurality, 36.9%, of young people who received no sex education live in households that made less than $20,000. Moreover, the authors note that “generally individuals receiving no sex education tended to be from low-income, nonintact families, black, and from rural areas.” We know that young people of color and young people from low-income communities are disproportionately affected by teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In order to overcome these health disparities, we must ensure that these young people, in particular, receive high quality sexuality education.
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Due to the expiration of the grant program on June 30, 2009, three months prior to the end of the federal fiscal year, the states that did accept the funding received three quarters of the total funding allocated for the full fiscal year.
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In December 2010, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010, which eliminated all existing discretionary funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, including the portion of AFLA that had been tied to the eight-point definition of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
Abstinence Only Education and Sex Education in the U.S.
New Jersey was the next state to decline funding in 2006, with the governor’s office cautioning that accepting the funding may in fact cost the state money because student may require additional sexuality education to clarify the partial and misinformation that is taught in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.