October 25, 2006
The Star-Ledger reports
that yesterday New Jersey rejected federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding because, "the strings attached to the [federal] money contradict [New Jersey's] own sex education and AIDS education programs." Since 1997, New Jersey had received around $800,000 a year from the federal government to teach these programs. New Jersey now joins California, Maine, and Pennsylvania as one of only four states in the nation that have rejected abstinence-only-until-marriage funding.
A state official quoted in the article notes that in the past New Jersey had adhered to several, but not all, of the elements required to receive federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding:
For instance, the state adhered to section C, which teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It supported section G, which teaches young people how to reject sexual advances, and section H, which teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.
But new guidelines would require the state to follow all sections, "including one that teaches that monogamous marriage is the only expected standard and that sex outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects." A state official had this to say:
Monogamy is not a bad idea, but having the government of New Jersey dictate these things for families is not something we wish to do. It isn't the function of state government to create standards (for sexual activity).
According to the article, some health educators welcomed the move:
"I personally feel that withholding medically accurate information to young people only does damage in the long run," said Janet Lamonico, a health teacher at JP Stevens High School in Edison.
Danene Sorace, director of Answer, a Rutgers-based office that promotes comprehensive sex education, agreed.
"It is a small pot of money, but it is still significant as far as we're concerned because that $800,000 is going to programs that are really ill-conceived," she said.
Congratulations New Jersey!