ACLU Helps Launch Campaign to Oppose Government Censorship of Sexuality Education

June 12, 2001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — Joining with 34 other prominent national organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union today said that abstinence-only sexuality education dangerously limits students’ access to information about human sexuality and results in widespread government-sponsored censorship.

“Abstinence-only sexuality education programs deny students much-needed information about contraception, safer sex practices, abortion and sexuality,” said Catherine Weiss, Director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

“In place of knowledge that could help save young people’s lives, these government-funded programs offer students medically false information that leaves sexually active teens vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS,” Weiss added. “The government should not be allowed to play roulette with our children’s health and lives.”

The ACLU is part of a national coalition that today launched a public education campaign aimed at stopping Congress from reauthorizing federal funding for abstinence-only education and seeking to promote comprehensive sexuality education.

Recent surveys show that the overwhelming majority of parents support comprehensive sexuality education that includes information about abstinence, contraception, abortion and sexual orientation. In contrast, the federal abstinence-only program specifies that the “exclusive purpose” of the education must be to “teach that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity” and that “sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.”

The Joint Statement Against Abstinence-Only Education, which was presented at today’s news conference and endorsed by the ACLU and health, education, youth and religious groups, says that abstinence-only education is censorship that needlessly entangles government with religion. The statement also says that abstinence-only education silences speech about sexual orientation and is ineffective, unnecessary and dangerous.

Speakers at today’s news conference include Judy Blume, a best-selling author of books for young people, and Geny Cabral, a high school student from New York who is a peer educator with the Teen Health Initiative, a program sponsored by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The Joint Statement Against Abstinence-Only Education, a Fact Sheet on Why First Amendment Supporters Should Oppose Abstinence-Only Sex Education, and a press kit are available through the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project website at

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