About 20 organizations that support comprehensive sex education are stepping up their efforts to urge Congress to reject any additional increases in federal funding for abstinence-only sex education programs across the country, The Washington Times reports. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Planned Parenthood, and Advocates for Youth have launched a nationwide campaign calling for no new federal money to go to abstinence-only programs, saying there is no evidence that abstinence programs reduce the rates of sexual activity, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted disease transmission among youth.
President Bush has requested $135 million in his fiscal year 2003 budget for abstinence programs, a 33% increase over 2002 funding levels. SIECUS president Tamara Kreinin said more than $500 million has been spent on abstinence-only sex education since 1998 despite a lack of evidence showing the programs are effective. The groups are urging Congress to instead support a bill sponsored by U.S. representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and James Greenwood (R-Pa.) that would boost spending on comprehensive sex education programs to $100 million in fiscal 2003. The House Appropriations Committee this week is beginning work on 2003 appropriations for the Labor and Health and Human Services departments.