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March 7, 2006

I feel so privileged to have been asked to be the first guest blogger on the Take Issue Take Charge website. For those who know me in the movement, you understand how much I like to give my opinion.

So let's get started!

After a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, the Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to stop funding the Silver Ring Thing, a Pittsburgh-based abstinence-only-until-marriage program, because of the religious content used in SRT's programs. This is a great victory for proponents of comprehensive sex education and for young people. Yet, it forces us to ask ourselves how the federal government has been able to create a billion dollar nationwide industry that spreads false and misleading medical information, promotes stereotypes and traditional gender roles, and marginalize so many of our young people. In my opinion it has been the fear of some of our staunchest, pro-choice members of Congress who fail to stand up against these despicable programs.

Sex education is like no other issue in America -- we agree. The vast majority of Americans, no matter what political stripe, support a comprehensive approach to sex education that talks about abstinence and contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy or the spread of STDs. Any poll taken at any given time shows that 80 to 90 plus % of Americans support comprehensive sex education. Why then are the politicians, particularly pro-choice allies in Congress, so out-of-touch with the American people on this issue? Two words -- TEENAGE SEX. When we talk about family planning and abortion, lawmakers can make it about adults, specifically sisters, wives, and girlfriends. When we talk about sex education, lawmakers are talking about teenagers having sex, specifically lawmakers' teenagers having sex.

Well, my advice for our pro-choice allies is -- get over it. The American people understand that all young people need to be fully-informed about the sexual health in order to live a happy and healthy future. It is time our allies in Congress did too.

Adrienne Verrilli is the director of communications at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. The views and opinions expressed in this communication do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the staff, management and directors of the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, its affiliates, or its chapters.

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