Bush Administration FLUNKS grade for lack of AIDS Education


News Releases 11/29/2001
Lambda Issues 2001 World AIDS Day Report Card

In its sixth annual World AIDS Day report card Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund highlights HIV prevention efforts, and FLUNKS the Bush Administration for its just-say-no approach to sex education for young people at risk of infection.

Surgeon General David Satcher earned an "A" for his political courage in calling for thorough and medically accurate sexual health education with his "Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior" issued earlier this year.

"F" goes to the Bush Administration and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson for throwing money into ineffective and discriminatory "abstinence-until-marriage" sex education programs in the face of skyrocketing rates of HIV infection among young people. Thompson is also threatening prevention programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through an investigation into whether sexual education that is designed to reduce risky sex is too "sexy." Even after reports that HIV-infection rates among young African-American men in major cities rival those of AIDS-ravaged countries of Africa, Tommy Thompson pumped $17 million additional dollars into abstinence-until-marriage" sex education, which does not address the real needs of young people and denies the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Now the Bush Administration wants to increase federal abstinence funding to $90 million. These programs withhold medically accurate information about STDs, HIV and pregnancy. In addition, Thompson will audit CDC-funded prevention projects to weed out realistic sexual education.

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"Ware Named to Lead US AIDS Panel"
Washington Times (12.10.01) Cheryl Wetzstein

A longtime proponent of sexual abstinence education has been named executive director of a panel that will inform the White House on HIV/AIDS issues. Patricia Funderburk Ware's "diverse experience and commitment to helping individuals revitalize their lives and communities" will further the goals of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said Nov. 30, the eve of World AIDS Day.

see more abstience-only "education">>> Conservative Tom Coburn to head Presidential AIDS Advisory Council

 

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San Francisco Chronicle, December 23, 2001
Meredith May, Chronicle Staff Writer
Conservative caveats threaten schools
They lose millions if scouts are banned from using space

While much of the buzz surrounding President Bush's new education bill is about student testing, the legislation also contains two items that have nothing to do with the classroom and a lot to do with warming the hearts of conservative Republicans.

And these provisions could leave schools in one of the Bay Area's more liberal-minded cities out in the cold.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act awaiting Bush's signature, public schools will lose their federal funding if:

They ban the Boy Scouts, or other groups who openly exclude gay members, from using public schools for meetings, or

They fail to turn over student names and home phone numbers to military recruiters.

The Berkeley School Board has policies denying the use of school facilities to any group that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and limiting military recruiters' access to students.

"We are going to have to look at the language of our policies, because our backs are against the wall," said Berkeley School Board member Joaquin Rivera. "We can't say no to millions of dollars.

"It's a disgrace lawmakers use public funds to advance their own right-wing agenda."

The amendments were added by southern conservative lawmakers under the "Family Protections" section of the education bill that deals with everything from blocking pornographic Web sites on school computers to notifying parents before giving students medical exams.

The Boy Scouts provision was crafted by Republicans Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Rep. Van Hilleary of Tennessee in response to school districts that have voted to exclude Boy Scouts from meeting on campus due to their anti-gay edict, most notably Broward County in Florida, said Michael Goode, a spokesman for Hilleary.

In the Florida case, a federal district court in Miami ruled last year that public schools receiving federal funds must provide equal access to the Boy Scouts.

Although the federal education bill says the same thing, Hilleary wanted to reiterate so the Scouts wouldn't waste money fighting legal battles just to get space for their meetings, Goode said.

For now, Berkeley schools may not have a problem because the Berkeley Boy Scout troops that use campus facilities disagree with the national Boy Scouts of America policy. They have signed nondiscrimination statements, said Marian Magid, spokeswoman for the Berkeley schools.

The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, the leading national organization to end gay bias in K-12 schools, is concerned the redundancy of the Boy Scout provision in the education bill will confuse school districts.

"Schools have to rent or provide equal space, but they don't have to promote Boy Scouts and discrimination based on sexual orientation," said GLSEN executive director Kevin Jennings, who has initiated a letter campaign to clarify the difference.

This year, 335 school districts - including Oakland, San Francisco and New York City - have distanced themselves from the Scouts by dropping their sponsorships, no longer providing scout advisers and organizational help.

Bush's education bill also gives more power to the military, whose recruiters for the first time will have the same access to student names and home phone numbers that colleges and job recruiters do.

Parents can opt out of the provision by crossing their children's names off the enrollment list that high schools pass to recruiters. Schools will have to notify parents of the option at the start of every school year.

Although Berkeley schools may be able to sidestep the Boy Scout issue, the district has passed a resolution limiting recruiting at its schools and will have to choose between federal funding and conviction.

Berkeley School Board member Ted Schultz said the military amendment is invading student privacy.

"There's a lot of strange stuff they added to the education bill to control every little local entity, and I find it very bothersome," he said.

 

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Bush: More for Abstinence Programs
By Laura Meckler, Associated Press Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2002;

WASHINGTON -- Sexual abstinence programs that bar any discussion of birth control or condoms to prevent pregnancy or AIDS are in line for a 33 percent increase in the budget President Bush is to submit to Congress.

Spending on "abstinence-only" education has been climbing over the last five years, as conservatives argue that teaching teen-agers about contraception indirectly condones teen sex. Critics say there is little evidence showing abstinence programs work.

The president will propose $135 million for abstinence-only education next year, an increase of $33 million, according to an administration official who spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

The request fulfills a pledge Bush made while campaigning for president to spend as much promoting abstinence as some have calculated the government spends educating teens about contraception.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson noted that the programs are very popular with many of his Republican colleagues, though he acknowledged a paucity of evidence of their effectiveness.

"The president feels, the administration feels, a lot of people in Congress feel that this is a much better way to attempt to solve this problem of teen-age pregnancy," Thompson said in an interview Wednesday. "Let's try them out and see if we can't get it to work."

Thompson said he is interested to see the results of extensive research on the program now under way. "I'm a results-oriented kind of person," he said.

Proponents argue that the nation has spent considerable money on birth control services, yet nearly 900,000 teen-agers get pregnant each year and one in three American babies is born to unmarried parents.

Opponents say it's unrealistic to push abstinence, given that many teen-agers already are having sex, and the surgeon general and others say there is no evidence the programs work.

"I find it stunning that an administration that touts the values of science when it comes to environmental policy can't run fast enough away from science when it comes to sexual health," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, which supports "abstinence-plus" programs. These encourage teens to say no to sex but suggest contraceptives and condoms for those who do not.

Intense debate over abstinence-only programs began in 1995 and 1996, when Congress was writing the massive welfare overhaul. The final legislation included $50 million per year for abstinence education, to be nearly matched by participating states. The money may not be combined with programs that discuss the benefits of contraception.

Under the law, the programs must meet one of eight goals. Among them: teaching that sex outside marriage probably would have harmful psychological and physical effects, how to reject sexual advances and why drugs and alcohol make avoiding sex more difficult.

Uncomfortable with the program, many states used their money to run pro-virginity media campaigns or after-school programs that make little if any mention of sex or abstinence.

Conservatives in Congress complained that states were dodging the intent of the program and created a new pool of abstinence-only money distributed directly by HHS. This program, which is where Bush wants the money increase, is meant to pay for programs that overtly discuss the value of avoiding sex.

According to the administration official, the Bush budget will ask Congress for abstinence-only money in three pieces:

­$50 million in grants to states through the welfare program. The welfare law, which included automatic funding for the abstinence program each year, must be renewed this year. Bush will propose that the program remain at $50 million, at least for the first year. This request will be considered as part of the larger debate over what changes are needed in the welfare law, and proposals to modify the abstinence program are certain.

­$73 million, an increase of $33 million, in competitive HHS grants.

­$12 million, the same as this year, for the Adolescent and Family Life program, which provides money to states through a formula to work with teen mothers.

© 2002 The Associated Press

 



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