SIECUS Applauds Colorado's Refusal of Title V Funding

New York, NY – Last week, Colorado became the 13th state to withdraw from the federal abstinence-only-until-marriage block grant program to the states through Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding. 

  “There is mounting evidence that abstinence-only programs are ineffective in preventing sexual activity among students. Students enrolled in abstinence-only programs are no more likely to abstain from sexual activity than students who receive no sex education,” said Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) commenting on the Colorado decision. “Numerous studies and reports have found that many abstinence-only programs not only are misleading and medically inaccurate, but also lack the necessary oversight. I am pleased that Colorado has joined a growing coalition of states that have refused federal funding for ineffective and costly programs that put the health of our youth at risk.” 

In fiscal year 2006, Colorado received $3,526,520 in federal funding for abstinence-only-until marriage programs, including nearly $500,000 in Title V funds.  Title V abstinence-only-until marriage funds in Colorado have gone to such programs as Choosing the Best PATH and Choosing the Best LIFE.  Both of these programs give inaccurate and biased information about the effects of premarital sex.   For example, Choosing the best LIFE says that “relationships often lower the self-respect of both partners,” and that “Emotional pain can cause a downward spiral leading to intense feelings of lack of worthlessness (sic).”

“Colorado’s decision to stop accepting overly restrictive money from the federal government shows a commitment to helping its young people make the best decisions about their lives and their health,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).  “Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds have been squandered on providing biased, inaccurate information for too long, in Colorado and across the country.  Refusing these funds is what public health demands and what the American people want,” continued Smith.

Currently there is no federal funding stream dedicated to comprehensive sexuality education programs.  Since 1982, however, the U.S. government has spent over $1.5 billion on unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.  Of that money, over $800 million has been spent during the current administration.  Under the leadership of President Bush there has been a continued growth in spending for these programs with more than $175 million allocated in Fiscal Year 2007 alone.  These programs are prohibited from discussing contraceptives except in the context of failure rates and have never been proven effective in promoting long-term benefits for young people.

“We're at a baker's dozen and counting, with 13 states, most recently Colorado and Minnesota,  refusing to participate in this program.  In fact, more than 1/3 of the funds available under this program are going unclaimed or unused all because it is just too extreme.  It is time for Congress to fix the Title V program by allowing states to use these funds as they see fit, not as Gingrich-era ideologues and the Bush administration dictate,” concluded Smith.

For more information contact Patrick Malone at (212)819-9770 ext. 316 or pmalone@siecus.org.  To view the full SIECUS State Profile for Colorado visit http://www.siecus.org/policy/states/2006/mandates/CO.html.

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