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Letter: Abstinence-Only Programs Fail to Properly Educate Teens (Buffalo News)

To the editor:

A June 17 letter writer encourages parents to demand more abstinence-only programs. He may as well ask them to insist on more teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. That is what those programs deliver.

The program he suggests as a model, ProjecTruth, is a prime example of what is wrong with abstinence-only-until-marriage programming. ProjecTruth uses a curriculum that censors critical information about prevention, relies on shame and fear and distorts information to advance a religious ideology. Since 2001, ProjecTruth has received more than $5 million in government funds.

Research, including a 2007 study commissioned by Congress, shows that abstinence- only programs are ineffective. The state Department of Health acknowledged this last year by rejecting millions in federal abstinence-only funding and diverting state matching funds to teen-pregnancy prevention programs.

The consensus among health experts and the public is that age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sex education is essential for arming youth with the information they need to make healthy choices, including the choice to remain abstinent.

John A. Curr III
Director, Western Regional Office of the New York Civil Liberties Union

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