Abstinence Only Education Out In Ohio
from 365gay.com on the Web
Columbus, Ohio, Mar. 24 --
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed budget strips funding for programs that
focus on teaching schoolchildren abstinence from sex until they're married.
The removal of $1 million in state aid to abstinence-only education marks a
shift in state support for programs that advocates say serve as a national
The administration says it also has no plans to apply for federal money for the
programs after the current funding ends Sept. 30.
"Quite frankly, I don't believe abstinence-only education programs work in the
long run," Strickland told the Dayton Daily News. "There is some evidence
that they may delay the onset of sexual activity, but over the long term there's
not data there that show they prevent, in a statistical sense, sexual activity
outside of marriage."
The governor could be headed toward a legislative showdown on the matter.
"That's one where he's likely to find a lot of legislative opposition to what
he's trying to do," said State Rep. Jay Hottinger, a member of the majority
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
"It's a significant and important shift in policy," said Earl Pike, executive
director of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland and a critic of
Rachel Sacksteder, education director at the nonprofit Elizabeth's New Life
Center in Dayton, said her facility's anti-abortion, pro-abstinence message is
The center has used its $800,000 a year in federal funding to reach 23,000
youths in a six-county area. Sacksteder said teen pregnancy rates are dropping.
Statewide, teen pregnancy rates have dropped from 42.3 pregnancies for every
1,000 females ages 10 to 19 in 1997 to 33.1 in 2005.
"We do see students that have been able to change their lives," she said.
Under a 1999 Ohio law, public schools must stress in health courses that
abstinence is the only surefire way to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted
diseases and HIV.
Tai Hethcock, director of the Abstinence Resource Centre in Dayton, said that
law has contributed to Ohio being a national leader in abstinence education.
But the programs have increasingly come under fire. A U.S. General
Accounting Office report last fall said little oversight or analysis is done to
see that federally funded abstinence programs are effective. And Case
Western Reserve University report in 2005 blasted Ohio's abstinence-only classes
as disseminating false information about contraceptives and abortion and
representing religious views as fact.