President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposes an end to abstinence-only-until marriage funding as we know it. It instead offers an initiative with the focus on teen pregnancy prevention. The format for these programs is currently being debated both on Capitol Hill and among comprehensive sex education proponents ( Failure to Launch by James Wagoner (Advocates for Youth) and William Smith (SIECUS), 17 June, 2009). A concern with the current initiative is that it leaves out sex education in the schools.
In July, 2009, the Healthy Teen Initiative, an amendment to the proposed health care reform legislation, passed committee. The amendment will dedicate $50 million in funding to states for evidence-based programs designed to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Also in July, Representatives Tim Ryan and Rosa DeLauro presented the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act, a bill which includes funding for comprehensive sex education.
This act is in many ways similar to the REAL act (Responsible Education About Life), introduced at regular intervals to Congress during the last eight years, most recently in March 2009. Click here for a summary.The REAL act is considered the gold standard for comprehensive sexuality education funding. (Advocates for Youth background the REAL act, 2005.)
In September, 2009, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch proposed an amendment to the health-care bill which would reinstates the $50 million in funding for abstinence-only education that President Obama had previously removed in his budget proposal. The amendment passed committee by 12-11 where Senate Finance Committee Republicans were joined by Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Kent Conrad in voting up the measure.
So, what does this mean for students in Georgia Public Schools?
The six counties and numerous local and statewide organizations that currently receive federal funds for abstinence-only-until marriage programs will only receive continued funds if their programs are shown to have effect on teen risk behavior & pregnancy according to the new budget (SIECUS Georgia State Profile 2008). We still do not know if there will be federal funds available for local schools or school boards to apply for towards comprehensive sex education.