Over $1 billion in government funding has been granted to abstinence-only programs since 1982. Funded programs are expressly forbidden from discussing contraception (aside from failure rates) and often contain factually inaccurate and distorted information. Those who design and operate these programs are often inexperienced, religiously-motivated and frequently have close ties to the anti-abortion movement. Worse yet, many organizations also derive over 95% of their annual budgets from government grants. Without copious federal funding these abstinence-only programs would likely cease to exist.
Legal Momentum is working to expose the lies and stereotypes about sex that are prevalent in federally funded abstinence-only programs. We have researched and profiled some of the most highly funded - and alarming - abstinence-only organizations nationwide.
Check out a pdf version of our full report or scroll down to access each organizational profile individually.
"Guys think so much more about sex because of testosterone."
- Choosing the Best LIFE 1
Founded in 1983, Choosing the Best is one of the most well established and widely used abstinence-only curricula. It is also one of the most controversial curricula, namely for its gender bias, misleading information and shaming tactics.
"Sex makes you feel good, but it can kill you."
- Free Sex - NOT! 1
Free Teens USA is a longtime federal abstinence-only grantee that produces its own curriculum and operates several websites. Though it has come under intense scrutiny for its links with Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, Free Teens continues to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding each year.
Heritage Community Services, Heritage of Maine & Heritage of Rhode Island
"Females need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason girls have an added responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn't invite lustful thoughts."
- Heritage Keepers 3
Heritage Community Services, a South Carolina-based abstinence-only educator, has been criticized for everything from its curriculum's gender bias to the organization's financial mismanagement. Yet with generous government support, Heritage is expanding, recently launching affiliates in Maine and Rhode Island.
To read the Maine Department of Education's letter regarding the Heritage Keepers curriculum, click here.
To read the Rhode Island Department of Education's advisory letter regarding the Heritage Keepers curriculum, click here.
National Abstinence Clearinghouse
"The male and female body are not anatomically suited to accommodate sexual relations with members of the same sex. Sexual practices in the homosexual lifestyle are considered very dangerous for disease, infection, etc. This lifestyle should not be encouraged as healthy or as an equal alternative to marriage."
- Abstinence 101 4
With offices in South Dakota and Washington, D.C., the Clearinghouse pushes an abstinence-only message with publications, merchandise and an annual conference. Specifically, the Clearinghouse's "message" includes gender stereotypes, homophobic sentiments and misleading information.
"If men want to play basketball, they call their male friends. If women want to 'enjoy' a shopping or a sports activity, they call their female friends. There are important issues and activities which are enjoyed most when shared with friends of the same sex."
- FACTS and Reasons (Senior High School Curriculum) 5
Taught in numerous schools nationwide, Northwest Family Services' FACTS (Family Accountability Communicating Teen Sexuality) abstinence-only curriculum uses gender stereotypes, misleading information and scare tactics.
"A gentleman stands behind a lady going up an escalator or in front of her on her way down. He goes first down the escalator to protect her in case she loses her balance."
- Maturing in Body and Character 6
Despite a lawsuit brought by the ACLU in the early 1990s and more recent criticisms of its gender stereotypes, anti-abortion bias and scientific inaccuracy, Teen-Aid's abstinence-only curriculum continues to be used in public schools nationwide.
"Could condoms be just another stupid idea?"
- Why kNOw's Public School Curriculum 7
Founded as an offshoot of a crisis pregnancy center, Why kNOw now produces its own abstinence-only curriculum, which contains dangerous and outdated gender stereotypes as well as inaccurate and misleading sexual health information.
1Bruce Cook, Choosing the Best Life: Leader Guide, 7 (2003).
2Free Sex - NOT!, Free Teens Website, available at http://www.freeteens.org/stories/freesexnot.htm.
3Letter from Steven Brown, Executive Director of the Rhode Island ACLU, to Commissioner Peter McWalters, Rhode Island Department of Education (Sept. 21, 2005), available at http://www.riaclu.org/documents/sex_ed_letter.pdf.
4National Abstinence Clearinghouse, Abstinence 101, 88-90 (2005) cited via Letter from Rep. Henry A. Waxman to The Honorable David M. Walker (Oct. 6, 2005), available at http://reform.democrats.house.gov/Documents/20051006114033-87692.pdf.
5Rose Fuller and Janet McLaughlin, FACTS and Reasons: Senior High School Curriculum (Teacher's Manual), 28 (2000).
6LeAnna Benn and Alfred J. Derby, M.D., Maturing in Body and Character (Teacher's Manual), 274 (1999).
7Kris Frainie, Why kNOw Abstinence Education Programs: Curriculum for Sixth Grade Through High School (Teacher's Manual), 90 (2002).