ShareThis Page

ACLU wants to review Ohio abstinence classes

| Sunday, April 15, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The American Civil Liberties Union has asked 31 school districts in Ohio for copies of curricula used to teach sexual abstinence programs so it can review the material for accuracy.

The group's Ohio affiliate sent public information requests to districts last week as part of a project being conducted by the civil rights group's national office, said ACLU of Ohio staff attorney Carrie Davis.

The goal is to examine the content of abstinence-education programs paid for with tax money, Davis said. The material also will be reviewed for any separation of church and state concerns, she said.

A long-awaited national study ordered by Congress and released Friday concluded that students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not.

In addition, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes that were reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex at about the same age as other students -- 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

Some of the school districts asked to provide copies of their abstinence curricula to the ACLU include Dayton, Miamisburg and West Carrollton in southwest Ohio.

Valerie Huber, director of the National Abstinence Educators Association, a newly formed trade group, said she doubts the ACLU will uncover any problems.

"It's probably part of a coordinated effort to de-fund abstinence education," she said.

Huber said other studies show abstinence education programs work in persuading teens to delay the onset of sexual activity and persuading sexually active teens to reduce participation in casual sex.

The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have said repeatedly they don't believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement.

Some lawmakers and advocacy groups believe the federal government should use that money for comprehensive sex education, which would include abstinence as a piece of the curriculum.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat and critic of abstinence-only education, has stripped $1 million in state aid for those programs from his proposed budget.

The administration says it has no plans to apply for federal money for the programs after the current funding ends Sept. 30.

Ohio abstinence groups have received $23.7 million in federal dollars over the last three years, according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The state has contributed $500,000 a year, in addition to running programs through the Governor's Office on Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me