Nevada abstinence ads sparks criticism

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 15 2003 11:00 PM ET

A new radio advertisement sponsored in part by the Nevada State Health Division that promotes abstinence has drawn sharp criticism because it says that sexually active teenage girls are often dumped by their boyfriends and wind up feeling "dirty and cheap." The ad, part of a federally funded abstinence education program, is the first of three that will roll out over the next few months, according to Jessica Cowee, the abstinence-only education coordinator for the state health division. The state's yearly $157,000 federal abstinence education grant also will be used to create television commercials, Cowee said.

Executives with Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union say the radio spot fails to provide teenagers with information to help protect themselves from disease and that it is harmful to describe girls who have sex as "dirty and cheap." "There's nothing wrong with encouraging teens to be abstinent, but the harshness of using 'dirty and cheap' is unhelpful, especially for adolescents who may already be feeling stigmatized," said Gary Peck, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada. Laura Deitsch, of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada, said abstinence-only education is "dishonest and harmful" and that sex education should include information about abstinence, safer sex, and responsible decision-making.