SACRAMENTO – A leading pro-family organization is demanding that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state superintendent of public instruction abandon a California ban on abstinence-only education in public schools.
SaveCalifornia.com pointed to a landmark study, titled “Effectiveness of an Abstinence-Only HIV/Sexually Transmitted Disease Risk-Reduction Intervention for Young African-American Adolescents,” showing that abstinence education protects two-thirds of young teenagers from STDs and unwed pregnancies. The study was published Feb. 1, 2010, in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Now the group is sending an unwavering message to Schwarzenegger and California state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.
“It’s time to respect science and employ abstinence education to help save teens and pre-teens from sexually transmitted diseases that are at unacceptable levels,” SaveCalifornia President Randy Thomasson said in a statement. “In light of these facts, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack O’Connell should immediately drop their out-of-date prohibition of abstinence-only education in California public schools.”
The group is challenging policymakers to put aside their own opinions and biases and acknowledge that empirical research shows abstinence education plays an essential role in helping teens remain healthy.
“Children are not sexual animals, but are precious human beings created in the image of God with the ability to think and make healthy choices,” Thomasson said.
Angela Griffiths, a professional health educator in the San Francisco Bay Area, added, “We’ve always known that quality, whole-person health education is the most effective way to promote all healthy behaviors, including pregnancy prevention. The problem has been blanketly labeling programs without looking at what they really promote. This study clears up numerous fallacies about the relative effectiveness of abstinence-only, safer-sex-only or combining the two approaches.”
Luis Galdamez, chairman of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse and executive director of La Familia Hispana in Southern California, took her demands a step further – suggesting President Obama and Congress restore funding for Community-Based Abstinence Education and Abstinence Education under Title V.
“Children deserve the best,” Galdamez said. “We should teach them the truth, not lies. Abstinence-until-marriage education is the only 100 percent way to avoid teen pregnancy, STDs and many other unwanted consequences.”
SaveCalifornia noted that O’Connell and the governor’s teen pregnancy program have banned abstinence-only education in California public schools.
O’Connell has ordered that, “Abstinence shall be taught within the context of HIV/AIDS prevention education EC 51934 (3), however, abstinence-only education is not permitted in California public schools” (bold in original text).
SaveCalifornia warns, as of July 1, California’s teen pregnancy prevention program will teach “risky, pro-condom education to children as young as kindergarten, yet completely prohibit abstinence education.”
The recent peer-reviewed study proving the effectiveness of abstinence education was compiled and released by Drs. John and Loretta Jemmott from the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Geoffrey Fong from the University of Waterloo and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Waterloo, Ontario. It was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and involved 662 black children in Philadelphia.
After sixth and seventh grade students received eight hours of abstinence-only education, 66.5 percent of the students avoided sexual intercourse for two years following the instruction. By contrast, nearly half of students who received classes combining both abstinence education and safe sex said they had sex within the two-year period.