Title V, Section 510 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 increased funding for abstinence-only education.
Since fiscal year 1998, Title V has allocated $50 million annually in federal funding for this type of education, under the assumption that remaining silent about healthy sexual activity will keep students from engaging in sexual activity.
Unfortunately, teaching abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage has proven ineffective and ultimately dangerous, failing to teach student-age children how to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
School-age children are still becoming sexually involved, but because of abstinence-only education, they lack proper information regarding their health and safety.
Having reviewed the program requirements, I acknowledge their good intentions to prevent sexual activity in student-age children who aren’t emotionally and psychologically ready.
Abstinence-only education programs, under the law, must teach that abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage is the standard and that abstinence is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy and STDs. A comprehensive list of the requirements for the programs can be found online.
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., researched the effectiveness of abstinence-only education programs. Their report “Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs” was submitted April 2007 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is available online.
“Findings indicate that youth in the program group were no more likely than control group youth to have abstained from sex and, among those who reported having had sex, they had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age.”
Also, “study youth are less knowledgeable about the potential health risks from STDs,” and program group youths “were more likely to report that condoms are never effective at preventing STDs.”
The four research sites, Powhatan, Va.; Miami, Milwaukee, and Clarksdale, Miss., didn’t show statistically significant differences in behavior between the control group and program group youths. The programs don’t achieve their goals and hinder pertinent education about sexual health.
Under the matching block grant program administered by the DHHS, states must match Title V federal funding at 75 percent. This means each state has to give $3 for every $4 the federal government provides for Title V funding.
Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine rejected Title V funding for family life education programs in 2007, recognizing its ineffectiveness and waste of the already-strained state budget. Recently, President Barack Obama offered states funding for comprehensive sex education programs that promote personal responsibility, the Personal Responsibility Education Program.
PREP programs must replicate evidence-based effective programs, be medically accurate and complete, and include information on responsible sexual behavior with respect to both abstinence and the use of contraception.
They are also required to provide age-appropriate information and activities in an appropriate cultural context, teach healthy relationships, discuss adolescent development, and incorporate education about other healthy life skills (i.e., goal-setting, career success, etc.).
But Obama also streamed $50 million for the Title V funding. Gov. Bob McDonnell had the opportunity to apply for Title V or PREP funding. PREP funding would have ensured Virginia’s teens receive medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education without requiring matching funds from Virginia’s state budget.
On Aug. 31, Virginia found out that McDonnell would only apply for Title V funding, despite evidence proving the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only programs.
Virginia will now be required to use $400,000 of the state’s already-limited resources for these programs that have consistently failed our youth.
McDonnell’s decision will force Virginia to waste our taxpayer money because of political ideology, foregoing important comprehensive education.
McDonnell could have been fiscally and educationally responsible.
He could have given student-age children the information and skills needed to take knowledgeable responsibility for their decisions and sexual health. He didn’t.
McDonnell chose to restrict Virginia’s budget further and limit students’ education.
If you are a resident of Virginia, tell McDonnell your dissatisfaction with his decision to only apply for Title V funding.
He needs to know that his constituents are disappointed with him. Through his website, you can request a meeting with him using the scheduling request form or write him a message expressing your concerns.
You can find a pre-written letter to McDonnell on the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia website.