NARAL and ACLU Say North Carolina Bill is Important First Step to Correct Flawed Sex Ed Law

New NARAL-ACLU Report Exposes Dangers of Inaccurate Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Used in NC Schools

Raleigh, NC — On July 26, 2006, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said the State Senate’s passage of the technical corrections bill, SB 602, to the “Public School Health Curriculum” is an important first step, eliminating some bias against gay and lesbian students and correcting medically inaccurate language regarding HIV transmission. More is needed, however, to ensure teens’ health and safety, the groups said.

The passage of this bill coincides with the release of a report by NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and the ACLU of North Carolina. “Putting Teens At Risk: A Report on Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in North Carolina Schools” examines abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula used in public schools in six NC counties. In particular, the report highlights the medical inaccuracies and dangers posed to teens by four abstinence-only curricula and one parent guide used in the state. Several of the reviewed materials were identified by a 2004 U.S. Congressional report as having scientific errors and distortions.

Melissa Reed, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina said, “We applaud the North Carolina State Senate for helping to stop discrimination against gay and lesbian youth in the public health curriculum. However, as our report shows, we have a long way to go. Many abstinence-only-until-marriage programs endanger the health and lives of young Americans by requiring teachers to teach students blatant and dangerous falsehoods.”

The NARAL-ACLU report shows that several abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula used in NC counties:

· Inflate the failure rates of condom usage
· Mislead students into believing that condoms are ineffective in protecting against STD’s and unintended pregnancy
· Give biased and inaccurate information about abortion
· Promote gender stereotypes as medical fact

“North Carolina teens need accurate and complete information on how to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and STDs – they don’t need sex education riddled with inaccuracies and gender stereotypes,” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “We need to pay close attention to what our teenagers are being taught to ensure their health and safety.”

Since 1997, the federal government has spent more than a billion dollars on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs despite research indicating that many such programs contain inaccurate information. Some studies show that abstinence-only programs actually deter teens from protecting themselves from unintended pregnancy or disease when they start having sex. In recent years, North Carolina has received more than 1.5 million dollars a year in federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programming in the state.

The bill in its original form (H 1059) passed the NC House of Representatives on June 1, 2005. The bill will now go to the Governor for his signature.

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