Abstinence-Only Sex Education May Endanger Youth in Leesburg, FL, ACLU Says

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
November 3, 2006 12:00 am

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LEESBURG, FL — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today expressed concern over the announcement that the Christian Care Center, a ministry of First Baptist of Leesburg, will use a $2 million federal grant to teach abstinence-only education to teens.

The ACLU is concerned that the health of Florida’s youth will be at risk if the grant is used to give students incomplete or even misleading information about sex.

“Teaching abstinence can be part of a comprehensive sexual education plan, but if taught alone, it will leave young people with partial information and misinformation which only puts their health — and even their lives — in danger,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “The most educationally sound strategy is comprehensive sex education that ensures that teens in Florida are fully informed and not put in harm’s way by a biased approach.”

Many abstinence-only programs throughout the country have been discovered to include false or misleading medical information, which can lead to a misinformed teenage population, increased transmission of sexual diseases and potentially major health problems. Medical and scientific evidence shows that abstinence-only education is ineffective and can lead to risky behavior. For example, teens who pledged to remain virginal until marriage were far more likely to engage in risky behavior. When many did have vaginal intercourse, they did so without using any protection.

The ACLU said it is also concerned that the church-run program might use a curriculum that is religiously biased. The use of federal grant money to promote a particular religious belief violates the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections. The ACLU said it will file a public records request to determine whether the curriculum is in compliance with the Constitution and does not reflect the point of view of one religious tradition.

“We need to ensure that government funds are not being used to promote religious views in public schools,” said George Crossley, Chair of the Central Florida Chapter of the ACLU of Florida. “That is why we will be filing a public records request to find out what exactly the government is funding. We are hopeful that the church will comply with laws restricting the use of federal funds.”

For more information on the ACLU’s work regarding abstinence-only-until-marriage education visit www.takeissuetakecharge.org

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