35 FREE SPEECH GROUPS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN TO OPPOSE GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP OF SEXUALITY EDUCATION
Press Conference: Tuesday June 12, 2001, 11:00 AM (EST), Hilton Garden Inn, 815 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
NEW YORK -- June 8, 2001. Thirty-five prominent national
organizations released a Joint Statement Against Abstinence-Only Education
on June 12, 2001, at a national news conference in Washington, DC.
by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) the groups are launching a public education campaign to oppose the Congressional re-authorization of federal funding for abstinence-ONLY education.
The press conference featured best-selling author Judy Blume, along with Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State; Jerald Newberry , Executive Director of the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEAHIN); William Smith, Director of Public Policy for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS); James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth; and Geny Cabral, a high school student from New York.
The Joint Statement Against Abstinence-Only Education, which is endorsed
by 35 organizations, including the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals,
Unitarian Universalist Association, National Education Association, Lambda
Legal Defense Fund, and other civil liberties, health, education, youth,
and religious groups, states that:
1. abstinence-ONLY education is censorship;
2. abstinence-ONLY education affronts the principle of church-state separation;
3. abstinence-ONLY education silences speech about sexual orientation; and
4. censorship of sexuality education is ineffective, unnecessary, and dangerous.
"Abstinence-only-until-marriage education denies young people vital information about human sexuality," says William Smith of SIECUS. "We believe that education is society's greatest obligation and that includes teaching young people about sexuality," says Jerald Newberry of the National Education Association Health Information Network. Major scientific and medical groups reject abstinence-ONLY as ineffective and potentially harmful. "Government-funded programs limit education to one 'approved' message about sexuality, a message long associated with certain religious beliefs. But public schools have an obligation to meet the educational needs of all students, including those who have questions about sexual orientation or simply want more information to prepare them better for adult life," added Joan Bertin, Executive Director of NCAC.
"The purveyors of abstinence-ONLY education say they are protecting children from the dangers of sex," says Leonore Tiefer, PhD, a researcher and sex therapist. "But all reputable evaluators have found such programs woefully inadequate to prepare young people for the complexities of sex in the 21st century. By suggesting, falsely, that condoms and contraception don't work, abstinence-ONLY actually puts students at risk."
Recent surveys show an overwhelming majority of parents support comprehensive sexuality education, which includes both abstinence and contraception. However, the federal abstinence-ONLY program specifies that the "exclusive purpose" of the education MUST be to "teach that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity" and that "sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."
The Joint Statement Against Abstinence-Only Education, a Fact Sheet
on Why First Amendment Supporters Should Oppose Abstinence-Only Sex Education,
and an on-line press kit are available at:
Organizations Endorsing the Joint Statement Against Abstinence-Only Education
ACT UP/New York
Advocates for Youth
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Medical Student Association
Americans United for Separation of Church & State
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Catholics for Free Choice
Center for Reproductive Law & Policy
Center for Women Policy Studies
Feminists for Free Expression
First Amendment Project
International Women's Health Coalition
Justice & Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ
Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc.
Mass MIC (Massachusetts Music Industry Coalition)
National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League
National Coalition Against Censorship*
National Education Association
National Network for Youth
National Women's Health Network
NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund
Online Policy Group
People for the American Way
Physicians for Reproductive Choice & Health
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
ProChoice Resource Center
Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States
Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
Third Wave Foundation
Unitarian Universalist Association
World Association for Sexology