Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 4, June 25, 2001



 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.  Spearheaded
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)
 Mothers' Voices
 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