Florida abstinence program gets $2.4 million grant
An Orlando, Fla., abstinence-only sex education program offered by the Catholic Church has received a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The program, called ThinkSmart, encourages teenagers to avoid sex before marriage and promotes the message that abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV infections, other sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies. Sixteen elementary and middle schools last year offered the program, according to project director Diane Brown. The new federal money will boost ThinkSmart's budget by eightfold, agency officials say, and will enable the program to launch a new service called STARS Clubs (Students Today Aren't Ready for Sex Clubs) for area youth. The $2.4 million grant will enable ThinkSmart to reach nearly 2,600 12- to 18-year-olds in the Orlando area over the next year. HHS officials say about $260 million in federal money will be spent nationwide on abstinence programs in the next year.