ACLU Applauds Introduction of Responsible Education About Life Act

March 22, 2007 12:00 am

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March 22, 2007


Washington – The American Civil Liberties Union today thanked Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) for re-introducing the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act, a bill designed to ensure that young people receive complete, medically accurate information about reproductive health.

The REAL Act would be the first federal program devoted to funding comprehensive sex education, providing states with funding for programs offering age-appropriate information on both abstinence and contraception. While teens would still learn that abstinence is the only sure way to prevent unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, the REAL Act would require that sex education programs also include vital information on contraceptive use.

“The ACLU supports the efforts of Representative Lee and Senator Lautenberg to provide teens with honest, accurate information about sex and sexuality,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This legislation would help to counter dangerous abstinence-only programs, currently funded with taxpayer dollars, that offer incomplete, sometimes incorrect information. Recipients of abstinence-only funding are barred from discussing contraceptives, even if a teen directly asks for this information, except to emphasize their failure rates. Our teens deserve better from their lawmakers and should have all the information necessary to make informed decisions and protect themselves.”

Despite statistics that demonstrate a high level of sexual activity among U.S. teens, Congress has allocated more than a billion dollars since 1996 for educational programs that focus exclusively on abstinence and actively censor information that can help young people make responsible, healthy, and safe decisions about sexual activity. In recent years, federal lawmakers have steadily increased federal funding for abstinence-only-until marriage programs to more than $170 million annually. In sharp contrast, no federal funds are dedicated to supporting comprehensive sex education programs that teach both abstinence and contraceptive use, despite research showing teens who complete such programs are more likely to delay their first sexual encounter, and more likely to use contraceptives when they do become sexually active.

Despite strong public support for comprehensive sex education, previous Congressional leadership has been unwilling to consider this important measure. The ACLU urges the 110th Congress to support the REAL Act and ensure that teens receive responsible education about life.

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