Valerie Huber is the Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA), a Washington, D.C.-based professional association in support of abstinence education as the optimal strategy for teen sexual health. Valerie previously served as the Title V Abstinence Education Coordinator for the state of Ohio where she provided oversight and grant awards to community abstinence programs serving more than 100,000 students per year as part of the Ohio Department of Health. She also founded and directed a non-profit organization in support of character building and abstinence education during the late 1990’s that served all school districts in two counties of Ohio.
Jim summarized a Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) report released last Wednesday that places the current number of sexually transmitted infections at 110 million in the U.S. Some 20 million new cases are diagnosed each year costing taxpayers approximately 16 billion dollars. Those between the ages of 15-24 are disproportionately affected by the epidemic accounting for half of all infections despite comprising only one-fourth of the sexually active population.
Valerie pointed to the fact that today sex among teens has been normalized. In fact, some who oppose abstinence education believe that teen experimentation is a healthy aspect of teen maturation therefore abstinence education is harmful.
The result? While the numbers above show infections are infecting about 1 in 3 people across the population as a whole, Valerie mentioned another C.D.C. report from about 4 years ago indicating that 1 in 4 teen girls has at least 1 STD. In African American teen girls it’s 1 in 2. This proves that among teens, this epidemic is exploding.
Valerie also described the legislative climate regarding this issue beginning with the Bush administration. In 2008 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did the first comprehensive review of where federal dollars were going for sex education. President Bush wanted to bring parity between contraceptive based sex education and abstinence education. When he took office there was an 8-1 disparity and he was able to reduce that to a 4-1 disparity, meaning that for every 4 dollars spent on contraceptive based sex education, 1 dollar was spent on abstinence based education.
As soon as President Obama took office, the first budget he sent to Congress eliminated all funding for abstinence based education. Even though the N.A.E.A. worked hard on Capitol Hill to bring some parity back, the ratio is still 16 to 1 in favor of contraceptive based sex education, the most lopsided sex education initiative America has had in modern times.
In response, a bipartisan team from Illinois introduced the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act (HR-718) which, for the first time in modern history, seeks to establish some parity between the two approaches, putting a strong emphasis on abstinence based sex education.
To express your views regarding the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act (HR-718), contact your member of Congress through the House Switchboard at 202-225-3121.
The National Abstinence Education Association