Happy Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day! And, Shame on President Obama

Today is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day. Last night I took part in a live twitter chat with STEPPS Boston an organization designed to help teen parents and to remove the stigma off those of us who found ourselves pregnant before 20.  I am pretty sure I was the oldest person on there; weighing in at 40 with a 22-year-old daughter, I suspect I was the hag of the crowd.

This provides some advantages.  I saw tweets from young moms about the difference between becoming a parent at 16 versus 19, the importance of a support network and the fact that none of us thought WE would be the ones to get knocked up in our teens. I could offer my Methusalah-like wisdom to the pot.

But the most important question to me was about what kind of sex-education the other ladies and I received when we were kids; both from our parents and our schools.

Here is how my sex education went:

Home:  None (Catholics)

School:  5th Grade, Mrs. Piper’s class.  Boys were shuttled off to one room, we ladies in the other.  The conversation consisted of some basic anatomy (I think?) brief explanation of our monthly ladytime and was rounded out with a brief discussion on boobs and bras.

Being 100 years old, I was surprised to see that many of the young women had similar experiences with sexual education today.  Now, do I think being properly instructed on sex, reproduction, anatomy, contraception and the benefits of remaining abstinent would have prevented me from becoming a teen mom.  Probably not.  But how can I know?

I have done heaps of researching into the ab-only-until marriage business.  And let’s be clear, there is a gravy train attached to ab-only stretching back decades and over a billion dollars.  So, the sad irony of today’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day is that President Obama just raised Heritage Keepers to the level of “evidence based” sexual education program.

When I read the story on RH Reality Check, I was stunned.  I am unclear how this came round?  I am just digging into it today and will post follow ups as I learn more.  In the meantime here’s just a bit of what Heritage Keepers is about (From RH Reality Check):

Igniting Fears and Spreading Misinformation

In fact, Heritage Keepers contains little or no information about puberty, anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, or sexual behavior. Instead, most of its lessons are devoted to promoting the importance of heterosexual marriage and the value of abstinence before marriage. Students are asked to take virginity pledges and class time is devoted to having students envision and plan their wedding days. Heritage Keepers also teaches students that:

  • “Males and females are aroused at different levels of intimacy. Males are more sight orientated whereas females are more touch orientated.” The implications of this difference are explained further: “This is why girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 46)
  • “Sex is like fire. Inside the appropriate boundary of marriage, sex is a great thing! Outside of marriage, sex can be dangerous.” (Heritage Keeper, Student Manual, p. 22)
  • Sexual activity outside of marriage can lead to:“Sexually Transmitted Viruses, Sexually Transmitted Bacteria, Cervical Cancer, AIDS, Legal and financial responsibility for a child until he or she is at least 18, Raising a child alone, Emotional hurt and regret, Increased chance of abuse from a partner.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 35)

And my all-time favorite (and ab-only standby) the in-school wedding!

When planning their weddings during class:

  • Young men are asked to envision their wedding day: “The doors swing open and there stands your bride in her white dress…This is the woman you have waited for (remained abstinent for) who has waited for you…This woman loves you and trusts you with all that she is and all that she has. You want to be strong, respectful and courageous for her. With all your heart, you want to protect her, and by waiting (sexually) you have.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 59)
  • Young women are asked to envision their wedding day: “Everything is just as you have seen it in a million daydreams…” When the bride takes her father’s arm: “Your true love stands at the front. This is the man who you have waited for (remained abstinent for) and who has waited for you…This man wants to be strong and courageous for you, to cherish and protect you… You are ready to trust him with all that you have and all that you are, because you have waited (sexually) you have it all to give.” (Heritage Keepers, Student Manual, p. 49)

Feel like contacting the president?  Click Here.

Feel like contacting your Senator?  Click Here.

Feel like contacting your Representative? Click Here.

The Cure for Valentine’s Day: Happy Day of Purity!

Valentines Day isn’t just for lovers, its also for the chaste.  February 14th will be celebrated as a “Day of Purity” and religious right group Liberty Counsel is the official sponsor.  It is an event promoted by conservative religious groups and churches around the world where kids sign purity pledges like this:

(I ordered these me and my old man.  Sadly, they haven’t arrived yet and Purity Day is tomorrow!)

But when you read the day of purity home page, taking the pledge seems to be less about remaining chaste (although that is the obvious directive) and more about establishing homosexuality as a sin and reinforcing the right wing meme that religious freedoms are under attack.

Here’s a few informative screen grabs:

Yipes GLSEN!  Concerted effort on the part of schools to turn youth away  from “traditional” values.  Of course! 

Can you guess which sentence is my favorite?

Many organizations are taking part in the day of purity.  Shockingly there are familiar faces in the anti-gay hate movement.   Including, SPLC hate groups:  Exodus International – Pray the gay away! American Family Association – Nazis = Gays! and of course Family Research Council – Gays = Pedophiles.

There are also churches, high schools (public, charter, parochial) and then there are the federally funded (current or past) “faith based” ab-only organizations.  Here are a few examples:

Pennsylvania

  • Real Commitment:
    • Received Federal Earmarks – 2005, 2008, 2009
    • Total of $311K

Washington State

  • Teen Aid:  $ 8.2 mm most recently awarded $495K in 2010

Oregon:

  • Northwest Family Services:
    • over $16mm between 1997 – 2011
    • Most recently received 1.3 mm in 2011 – throught FY 2012 (September)

Here is a list of all the participating groups.  Please take a click through and check out their federal funding for yourself here.

Defund Abstinence-Only! Get it out of the appropriations bill!

A 911 came out today from SIECUS to call and demand ab-only funding be removed from the 2012 Appropriations Bill.  I have cut and pasted the call to action at the end of this email.  Meanwhile read up on why ab-only is so bad – I do the research so you don’t have to!

Here are a few links to my work on federal funding of ab-only and anti-gay “family” organizations that form a base for much of the anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-gay legislation out there.  Let alone enforcing heteronormative and gender stereotypes on our society through our kids, especially our young girls.

This is a cover story I wrote for Westword on a Colorado based ab-only organization called WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training – now called Center for Relationship Education.

This covers a lot of ground and in my research serves as a pretty accurate model of ab-only programs, how they work, how they are funded and their deception on a national scale.  It would be helpful for you to watch the video of the in-school program embedded in the story.  It speaks volumes about the reality of ab-only in practice.

Here is the result of that story – Colorado Ethics Watch calling for an investigation into WAIT’s funding.

Here is an additional story – the initial one that got me investigating WAIT further – from the American Independent on the program’s ties to anti-gay Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa.

Another story about ab-only program Project SOS in Florida.  Again with ties to Pastor Martin Ssempa.

And some of my work on Iowa Family Policy Center, now The Family Leader, in Iowa.  Anti-gay Christian organization that has gotten millions in federal funding.

Here is one about a similar group in Indiana.

Consider listening to the podcast I did with Below the Waist on ab-only.  We covered a lot of ground and I put a fine point on the negative impact on young women by ab-only programming.

From SIECUS:  Action Needed: NOW

In these economic times when all we hear from Congress is budget woes, we have received word that Congress is trying to bring back dedicated funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that Congress’ own studies show just don’t work. We need to take action NOW to ensure that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs do not receive dedicated federal funding in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget.

Please take a couple of minutes to CALL the White House and the House and Senate Leadership in this order:

President Obama- 202-456-1414

Senate Majority Leader Reid – 202-224-3542

House Minority Leader Pelosi – 202-225-0100

Script you can use for calls:

“My name is _______ and I’m from ______, __ (city, state). I’m calling to make sure there is no dedicated funding for abstinence-only programs in the final Labor-HHS bill. These ineffective programs have no place in a bill that should focus our limited dollars on evidence-based and cost-effective programs. Please do not provide any dedicated funding to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations negotiations. Thank you.”

We don’t have a lot of time on this, so please call now!

We have worked hard to eliminate two-thirds of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding. We have to fight hard to keep from backsliding. Over $1.5 billion dollars have already been wasted on these ineffective programs. Young people deserve better.

In solidarity,

Jen Heitel Yakush
Director of Public Policy
SIECUS

PS. Please call now – Share with your friends.  We absolutely need President Obama and the Senate and House Leadership to hear from you that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are a waste of taxpayer dollars and have no place in the appropriations bill.

My podcast on Below the Waist about how bad ab-only programs are

Last week I did an interview with Dino Corvino at Below the Waist about abstinence-only until marriage programming.  Here’s a link.  Its about 42 minutes long so makes for excellent backgrounder or car listening.  Though I am sure you will want to listen intently!

I make references to a number of things in this podcast that likely require more information.  Here’s a little bit:

More information about things discussed in Below the Waist podcast and further references and readings.

Regarding the Jemmott study: I said that abstinence only until marriage programs offered by WAIT Training/Center for Relationship Education and Project SOS were not analogous to the Jemmott study and therefore should be discounted when used as proof that ab-only works.

They differ in the following ways – NYTimes on Jemmott Study:

“…the abstinence-only classes in the Jemmott study centered on people with an average age of 12 and that unlike the federally supported abstinence programs now in use, did not advocate abstinence until marriage.  The classes also did not portray sex negatively or suggest that condoms are ineffective, and contained only medically accurate information. Dr. Jemmott’s abstinence-only course was designed for the research, and is not in current use in schools.”

Abstinence only until marriage programs promote abstaining from sex until (heterosexually) married, often refer to condoms only in terms of their failure rate instead of efficacy, utilize shaming and guilt techniques, negatively portray sex and have been proved time and again to contain multiple medical inaccuracies.

Helpful study about ab-only vs. comprehensive sex ed.

Real Education for Youth Act (First ever legislation requiring sexuality education address needs of LGBT youth.) Co sponsored by Representative Lee and Senator Lautenberg.

Regarding the study I referenced about ab-only stigmatizing LGBT kids: A 2007 Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) report studying the impact of abstinence-only programming in schools on LGBT kids found that “a significantly greater portion of students in schools that used an abstinence-only curriculum reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and gender expression—64.8% of these students felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation compared to 57.3% of all other students.”

The report also noted that “LGBT students in schools that used abstinence-only sex-education curricula also reported experiencing higher levels of victimization related to their sexual orientation and gender expression than other students.”

Also, I point out in the podcast that the founder of WAIT Training/Center for Relationship Education in Colorado lied on her application for Title V funding claiming the American Psychological Association “vetted” its curriculum as inclusive and non-stigmatizing of LGBTQ kids.  Here is WAIT/CRE’s claim and APA’s answer (from a story I wrote in Westword Denver):

In WAIT Training’s Title V application, Mackenzie addresses the RFP mandate for inclusivity of LGBTQ students this way: “The American Psychological Association Gay and Lesbian Issues Team have vetted the WAIT Training Curriculum for inclusive language and appropriate activities that include all students…only data driven curricula that is inclusive and not stigmatizing to this population will be utilized in this effort.”

But while the APA did review WAIT Training materials, “we never conveyed any sort of approval to WAIT Training as being adequately inclusive or appropriate for lesbian, gay and bisexual students,” says Clinton Anderson, associate executive director and director of the APA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office.

Several years have passed since he reviewed WAIT Training’s materials, Anderson adds, but he recalls that his main concern was “if the theme is delay of sexual behavior until marriage that the trainers needed to be clear that marriage for same-sex couples was affirmed.”

At the time, Mackenzie told Anderson she supported affirmation of LGBT relationships, but he says he “did not feel the materials or the trainer training and selection processes were clear enough to ensure that all trainers would be as affirmative as she indicated she was.”

WAIT’s misrepresentation of his organization’s stance is of “personal concern,” Anderson says now. Although he acknowledges that the word “vetted” on WAIT’s application leaves room for interpretation, “no one likes to be used inappropriately for gain.”

Lie.

Prop 26 and Cristen Hemmins

Proposition 26 is being voted on today in Mississippi.  The initiative Mississippians are voting on would add this amendment to the state constitution:

As of now, the vote is a toss up.  The implications of prop 26 passing are beyond the pale.  The amendment effectively outlaws birth control, in vitro fertilization and could cast miscarriage as cause for criminal investigation.

Cristen Hemmins is an outspoken opponent to prop 26.  A survivor of a brutal rape, Hemmins puts a face on what prop 26 could do.  In addition to abolishing a woman’s right to choose prop 26 removes a woman’s right to her own family planning and makes no exception for abortion in the case of rape or incest.

Hemmins appeared on The Rachel Maddow show a couple of weeks ago and spoke earnestly and openly about her rape, saying this:

Well, I just felt like I had a really, a strong platform to talk about it. I mean, obviously, when I was abducted and raped and shot twice, I didn`t get pregnant. But if I had gotten pregnant — I mean, I would have had no options. And if I had gotten pregnant, if I had been forced by the state government to bear that child, it could have killed me  — physically, if not emotionally.

And, you know, when I tell people about what happened to me, I feel  like it`s, you know, it`s pretty hard for people to look me in the eye and say, you know, you shouldn`t have a choice, you shouldn`t be able to make  your own decisions about your own health care, you should make — you know, the state government should really make that decision for you.

Later in the interview, Maddow brought up the potential ban on birth control that would come from the passage of  prop 26:

MADDOW: The issue of the potential ban on birth control, and I know this is something that`s been discussed a lot and that is being contested by people who are advocates of this initiative and to a certain degree — is birth control becoming a central part of the debate in Mississippi?

Hemmins response was an eye opener and took the conversation about prop 26 to a completely different place:

HEMMINS: It is. You know, the problem is most people don`t understand how birth control works. You know, in Mississippi, we have a lot of abstinence only education. So, we have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, and, you know, a lot of Mississippians just don`t understand the biology of how babies happen.

Hemmins statement is easy for those in the abstinence industry to brush off – claiming they delay sexual debut despite all the studies to the contrary.  The fact that Hemmins is aware enough of the problem with ideologically driven, ineffective and deceptive abstinence only programming in the state speaks volumes of the prevalence of the problem.

When we continue to allow medically inaccurate, shaming and religious based sexual “education” into our schools, we are continuing to allow our teens to stay ignorant of sexual health and the realities of their own bodies.  Abstinence-only until marriage programs message of simply staying abstinent until (heterosexual) marriage has got to stop.

Here is one example of an abstinence program that has operated in Mississippi:

One CBAE (Community Based Abstinence Education) grantee, Community Matters, Inc., describes itself as “a faith-inspired, community non-profit organization.”Community Matters, Inc. runs the Rural Abstinence Partnership and is an affiliate partner of the Abstinence Clearinghouse. (See the Title V section of the South Dakota SIECUS State Profile for more information on the Abstinence Clearinghouse.) The Rural Abstinence Partnership conducts abstinence-only-until-marriage programming for young people ages twelve to eighteen in four rural counties in central Mississippi.

The Partnership also hosted the “Teen Rite of Passage Cultural Celebration and Parent Conference” in June 2007 in Jackson, Mississippi.Local high school principal Robert Mack spoke at the event and told the youth that “the bible says to abstain from fornication; and that’s just a big word for don’t do that.” He went on to say that the young people were “in the perfect will of God and obedient to a divine mandate.”

The new war on Sex Ed

Beware medically accurate comprehensive sex-ed!

Wisconsin will be spending some precious time today – during what is supposed to be a special session focused on jobs – arguing on the floor of their congress to  defund end comprehensive, evidence based sex-education with SB 237:

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and bill author Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) said they expected the measure to pass the Senate. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said Republicans in his house have not yet discussed it.

Lazich said she wrote the bill so local officials could decide many aspects of their curricula.  She said her bill would free districts from having to “teach the big-government state mandates” under current law, though her bill does require certain topics be covered.

But Democrats said they feared changing the law could lead to higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies.

And;

The courses would also have to discuss parental responsibility and “the socioeconomic benefits of marriage” and explain pregnancy, prenatal development and childbirth.

Beyond that, Lazich’s bill would recommend other topics to be covered, rather than requiring them. Current law requires a range of subjects be covered in sex education courses, such as anatomy, puberty, parenting, body image, the benefits of abstinence, marriage and family responsibility, the use of contraceptives and how drugs and alcohol affect decision making.  The topics Lazich’s bills recommends would not include birth control, though schools could choose to teach about that on their own.

Please, save that “small government” bullshit for someone else.  This is an effort to bring ineffective and heteronormative (read:  anti-gay) abstinence only until marriage programming back – and the millions of dollars that would come with it through a provision the Republicans snuck into Obama’s health care reform act.

And, according to the lively twitter feed today about SB237 local Family Research Council affiliate Wisconsin Family Council/Action was there commenting on the floor during debate.  Also, a big shout out was given to Wisconsin Right to Life – of course – for all their help bringing this ridiculous bill to the floor.

In another avenue toward the New War on Sex Ed, yesterday anti-choice American Life League posted this:

And the day before that I posted this on Alternet:

It is being reported that Live Action’s Lila Rose is planning the next step in her ongoing effort to defund Planned Parenthood:  take away their sex-ed money.  Rose is lamenting the fact that Planned Parenthood got federal money to implement evidenced based comprehensive sex education via PREP  – Personal Responsibility Education Program – funding.

In preparation for what may eventually be another Lila Rose grainy expose trumpeted by the Right, it’s helpful to brush up on where millions and millions of tax-dollars are going to pay for sex “education”: ineffective and stigmatizing abstinence-only-until marriage programs.

Study after study has revealed the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only programs in reducing the number of teen pregnancies and reducing the spread of disease. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, virginity pledges, a staple of abstinence-only programming, not only did not decrease occurrences of teen STDs, but actually resulted in pledge-takers not seeking medical attention once infected, leading to an increased possibility of transmission.

Abstinence-only programs come under fire for questionable instructional methods and curricula as well. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) periodically releases in-depth reviews of abstinence-only programs and regularly finds that they often rely on messages of fear and shame to encourage abstinence and promote biased views of gender, marriage and pregnancy options.

Yet Americans have spent more than $1.5 billion on abstinence-only programs over the past fifteen years through Title V of the Social Security Act and other federal legislation. The programs really flourished under President George W. Bush, who created an injection of funding with his Community Based Abstinence Education grants. President Barack Obama did away with this funding stream, but during the fight in Congress over health-care reform, Republicans put $250 million for abstinence-only programs into the Affordable Healthcare Act.

I have covered two abstinence-only groups specifically in the past year, investigating their methods, connections and over $14 million combined in federal and state grants.  Project SOS in Florida and WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training – now known as The Center for Relationship Education based in Denver.

Project SOS has received over $6.5 million in federal money since 2002, but the group decided not to apply for funding this year.  SOS had ties with the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda through the one of its most vocal advocates, Pastor Martin Ssempa.  The group’s founder, Pam Mullarkey, was an ardent supporter of Ssempa quoted on his website as saying, “Martin Ssempa is the man to watch. He’s the most powerful voice for abstinence in the world and his passion, charisma and character make his vital message irresistible.”  Mullarkey says Project SOS was laid out in its entirety to her over the course of five evenings by God.  And, like so many other ab-only programs, SOS was cited for peddling erroneous medical information in its curriculum and relying on shame and fear as means of instruction.

WAIT/CRE has gotten over $8 million in federal funds and just this year was part of an end run around former Colorado Governor Ritter – who rejected Title V in favor of PREP – to obtain an additional $233,000 a year for the next three years.

During an assembly in a Colorado high school Shelley Donahue, one of WAIT/CRE’s motivational speakers told her audience:  girls’ brains are like spaghetti, boys’ brains are like waffles…boys tuck schoolbooks under their arms at the waist, girls cradle theirs like a baby…boys were made to pursue girls and girls were made to wait to be pursued by boys…we have an entire generation of girls looking for daddy love…you just have to get that viable sperm close to her vagina and she turns on the little Hoover vacuum, because girls are very, very fertile.

At the same lecture, Donahue used a participatory activity outlined in the WAIT/CRE curriculum to show how sex prior to marriage negatively impacts a person’s ability to bond to a mate in the future. Donahue had a boy join her at the front of the auditorium. She instructed him to bare his arm, then ripped a long piece of clear packing tape off a roll and held it up to the audience; the boy’s girlfriend.

Donahue applied the tape to the boy’s arm and rubbed it briskly to ensure that it bonded, talking about how the tape would probably not become the boy’s wife.  She then ripped tape from his arm – he broke up with her – and held it up for the students to see.  The tape was covered with bits of the boy’s dried skin and hair. Donahue commented on how gross the tape was and repeated the operation over and over again. Each time the tape pulled up more debris and lost more of its ability to make a tight bond.

The implication is the girl is now dirty, soiled for her future husband.  She will go on to have problems in her future “bonding” with another man.  This too is common in abstinence-only curricula.  The girl burdened with the actions of the boy, responsible for guarding her purity from him.  There is lip service paid to the boy’s responsibility but mostly in the form of excuses:  raging hormones, constantly producing sperm, the girl’s shirts are too low-cut.

According to one Colorado blogger, an attendee of another Donahue WAIT/CRE lecture reported Donahue told the group that the HPV vaccine “will leave them sterile.”  A familiar lie used by the right wing based on their belief that for young women, a potentially life saving vaccine’s most dangerous side effect is immorality and promiscuity.

You can watch the hour long video for yourself.  Not only does the gender stereotyping and nonsensical explanations about how one becomes pregnant continue, but also reinforcing heterosexual marriage as the only way to live a happy productive life is the order of the day.  And all of this is pulled directly from WAIT/CRE’s curriculum. Donahue says something akin to getting right with God in reference to pre-marital sex and mentions the deity several more times throughout the presentation.

According to a GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network) study “a significantly greater portion of students in schools that used an abstinence-only curriculum reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and gender expression—64.8% of these students felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation compared to 57.3% of all other students.”

A new circular issued by the Administration for Children Families, the government agency that distributes abstinence money, recommends Title V grantees,  “[Title V recipients] consider the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth and how their programs will be inclusive of and non- stigmatizing toward such participants.”

WAIT/CRE’s founder Joneen Mackenzie reported on her state application for Title V funding that, “The American Psychological Association Gay and Lesbian Issues Team have vetted the WAIT Training Curriculum for inclusive language and appropriate activities that include all students…only data driven curricula that is inclusive and not stigmatizing to this population will be utilized in this effort.”

The APA’s Clinton Anderson, associate executive director and director of the APA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office says otherwise, “we never conveyed any sort of approval to WAIT Training as being adequately inclusive or appropriate for lesbian, gay and bisexual students.” In fact, the APA supports comprehensive sex education and has maderecommendations for inclusive messaging.

As a result of Mackenzie misrepresenting WAIT/CRE as LTBTQ friendly, along with ethical questions about the way the Title V funding was obtained, Colorado Ethics Watch has called for an investigation.

Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch said, “It looks like WAIT violated that ethical standard here by claiming that the APA ‘vetted’ WAIT’s LGBT inclusiveness criteria when the APA says that did not happen. Obtaining government dollars by falsely claiming to be inclusive and tolerant of gay and lesbian youth actually hurts those young people.”

Project SOS and WAIT/CRE are but two examples.  They don’t even scratch the surface when it comes to outing the legion of discriminatory, shaming and worst of all medically erroneous abstinence-only programs – but they are unfortunately representative. Fraudulent crisis pregnancy centers and state affiliates of Focus on the Family have received millions of your tax dollars to talk to your kids about heterosexual marriage in the guise of sexual education – probably in a school near you.

There are two bills concerning abstinence funding sitting in the House of Representatives.   One introduced by Representative Barbara Lee pushing to end abstinence funding and the other is an appropriations bill to re-up the funding introduced by the Republicans.  Due to the state of the economy, rampant unemployment and a burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement one of these bills – the Lee bill – is likely to go nowhere.

The Republicans, champions of job creation, will probably find time to debate their bill, lobbying for abstinence-only programs because the real problem with the economy is the downfall of the family and traditional marriage – just ask any of the GOP hopefuls.  Perhaps the bill’s debate will coincide with the release of Live Action’s expose on Planned Parenthood teaching your teenager how to have dirty out-out-of wedlock sex by showing them how to roll a condom over a banana.  This is a possibility we who value comprehensive sex education and loathe the funding of hokum should be prepared for.

And, what would sex talk be without soon to be even more irrelevant Rick Santorum?  Today fellow blogger and Iowan Shane Vander Hart at Caffeinated Thoughts posted his interview with the GOP hopeful in which Santorum pledges to defund contraception.

Google It

What you can do:

There are two bills floating around the House: one introduced by Barbara Lee (California) to defund abstinence only programs reallocating that money to comprehensive sex ed.  And House appropriations bill (introduced by the Republican majority) to dismantle comprehensive sex ed and dump tax dollars into ineffective, discriminatory and religious based abstinence-only until marriage programming.  (If you would like to read why I and many others believe this is a bad idea – you can click on this link or scroll down.)

After my writeup posted on Alternet, there was a comment asking about who they could call in DC about this and the bill number. Here is a copy of Lee’s press release.  The bill number is HB 1085 and in the Senate S 578 (introduced by Senator Lautenburg of New Jersey)

Cosponsors in the House and Senate:  The co-sponsors of the House bill are: Diana DeGette (CO-01), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Sam Farr (CA-17), Bob Filner (CA-51), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Jesse Jackson Jr. (IL-02), Nita Lowey (NY-18), Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), James McGovern (MA-03), Gwen Moore (WI-04), James Moran (VA-08), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), John Olver (MA-01), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Charles Rangel (NY-15), Janice Schakowsky (IL-09), Pete Stark (CA-13), Lynn Woolsey (CA-06). 

The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Mark Begich (D-AK), Al Franken (D-MN), John Kerry (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR).

To contact Representative Lee to encourage movement on this bill:

Washington, D.C. Office
2267 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2661 Fax: (202) 225-9817
Hours of Operation: 9am – 5pm EST

To contact Senator Lautenburg:

Lautenberg, Frank R. – (D – NJ) Class II
324 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3224
Web Form: www.lautenberg.senate.gov/contact/routing.cfm

To contact individual Reps and Senators visit their websites or visit http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml