On July 29, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) released a special report on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Kentucky. The report provides an in-depth look at the funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Kentucky, the status of adolescent sexual health in the state, and Kentucky’s current law and policy. In addition, the report found that a significant portion of state and federal funds are being directed towards crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), and that some of the worst abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula are being used throughout Kentucky.
In Kentucky, the state distributes abstinence-only-until-marriage funding to 16 local health departments – 11 of which use fear and shame based curricula. The state also provides Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage sub-grants to more CPCs than any other state. CPCs are anti-choice establishments that function to dissuade women with an unintended pregnancy from choosing abortion. These centers often pose as family planning/reproductive health clinics and claim to offer “abortion information and referrals.”
In looking at the curricula used by these health departments, CPCs, and other community-based organizations, five central, and disturbing, themes emerged:
· relying on messages of fear and shame;
· fostering gender myths and stereotypes;
· promoting the questionable practice of virginity pledges; and
· providing misinformation.
“The young people of Kentucky deserve evidence-based and comprehensive sex education,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS. He continued, “The statistics around teen pregnancy and HIV make the case clear: we simply cannot wait any longer to provide the information and education Kentucky youth need to make fully informed decisions about their health.”
[i] “Teen Birth Rate per 1,000 Population, 2004,” State Health Facts, (2004), accessed 25 March 2008, <http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=37&st=3&yr=14&typ=3&sort=a&o=a>.
[ii] Brady Hamilton, et. al., “Births: Preliminary Data for 2006,” National Vital Statistics Reports, vol. 56, no. 7, December 5, 2007, pp. 1-18., accessed at: <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_07_tables.pdf>.
[iii] “Kentucky: Distribution of New AIDS Cases by Race/Ethnicity, Reported in 2006,” State Health Facts, (2006), accessed 25 March 2008, <http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?ind=512&cat=11&rgn=19>.