On Heels of Congressional Study Citing 'Deeply Disturbing' Misinformation in Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Programs, Lambda Legal Announces State-by-State Investigation of Medical Accuracy Law Violations

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Date: 
12/02/2004

Washington, DC, Dec. 2, 2004) — Lambda Legal announced today that it is launching an investigation into so-called “abstinence-only” education programs that may be violating state medical accuracy laws nationwide. A new Congressional report found multiple instances of serious inaccuracies in 11 abstinence-only curricula that are widely used in at least two dozen states. This month, the Bush Administration secured nearly $170 million in additional federal funding for these programs, bringing the five-year total in federal taxpayer support for such programs to nearly $900 million. While abstinence-only programs purport to encourage young people to refrain from sexual activity, many of these programs are vehicles for advancing right-wing opinions on abortion, HIV and gay people, and casting those opinions as facts, Lambda Legal said. Lambda Legal issued the following statement for Deputy Legal Director Hayley Gorenberg: “Abstinence-only programs are putting youth in serious danger by giving them inaccurate, misleading information. We believe these programs may be illegal in several states. We are investigating which states are teaching these 11 curricula and whether abstinence-only programs in those states are in violation of medical accuracy laws. A number of state laws require school health programs to be medically accurate, and we believe the abstinence-only programs highlighted in this Congressional study are unlawful. “There's a laundry list of deeply disturbing aspects of these abstinence-only programs, and we're particularly troubled by the misinformation about HIV and about gay youth. It just isn't true that youth will catch HIV through sweat or tears, or that half of all gay teenagers have HIV, yet our tax dollars are funding public school programs that claim these are facts. It's increasingly clear that the abstinence-only programs supported by the Bush Administration are a fraud on the American public. The Bush Administration, supported by Congress, has spent close to $1 billion on bigotry and distortions, and we intend to put a stop to it. “Our youth need to be supported today and prepared for tomorrow. Comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education can reduce infection rates and give youth the information they need to stay safe. Public schools in every state have a moral and legal obligation to educate our children, not intentionally and recklessly misinform them.” Earlier this year, Lambda Legal launched “Out, Safe and Respected,” a broad national campaign to educate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth about their rights to be supported and safe at school. For more on that campaign — including an in-depth Tool Kit for young people and a television PSA — go to www.lambdalegal.org. ### The full text of the report detailing inaacuracies in abstinence-only programs, which was released yesterday by Rep. Henry Waxman's office, is online at: www.democrats.reform.house.gov/Documents/20041201102153-50247.pdf.

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