ACLU Applauds Federal Legislation Supporting Responsible Sexuality Education
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON - Saying it would provide states with funding to teach sexuality education that includes information on both abstinence and contraception, the American Civil Liberties Union today hailed the introduction of the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
"Today's legislation is a much-needed antidote to the billions of taxpayers dollars that this administration has poured into unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs," said Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The government should not be in the business of withholding vital health information from teens."
The REAL Act would provide states with funding to teach sexuality education that includes information on both abstinence and contraception. Funding for the program would match federal dollars currently earmarked for abstinence-only-until-marriage education. There is currently no federal program that funds comprehensive sexuality education.
The act would require programs to teach age-appropriate and medically accurate information that is free from religion. Abstinence would be taught as the only sure way to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), however programs would include information on how to prevent pregnancy and STIs using contraceptives.
Research shows that nearly two-thirds of all high school seniors in the United States have had sexual intercourse. In addition, 15 to 24 year olds account for almost one-half of the total new sexually transmitted infections annually, while approximately 822,000 pregnancies occurred among 15 to19 year old women in 2000.
"Billions of dollars have been spent by the government on abstinence-only-until-marriage education," Murphy said. "However teaching abstinence alone isn't enough. It is about time that Congress devoted dollars to protecting teens against unwanted pregnancy and STIs."
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society of Adolescent Medicine, and the American Association for Health Education are just a few of the more than 100 organizations that endorse the REAL Act.