From: gbosseau@lambdalegal.org
Reply-To: Pressqueries@lambdalegal.org
Subject: New Toolkit Tackles Homophobia in 'Abstinence-Only' Education, Equips Communities to Fight for Real Sex Ed
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 15:23:07 -0400

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LAMBDA LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND
http://www.lambdalegal.org

News Release

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 9, 2002

CONTACT: Eric Ferrero, 212/809-8585 ext. 227; 888/987-1984 (pager)

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New Toolkit Tackles Homophobia in 'Abstinence-Only' Education, Equips Communities to Fight for Real Sex Ed

(NEW YORK, Monday, September 9, 2002) - Citing an increase in public school districts replacing sex education with programs that teach that sex is only acceptable for people who are heterosexual and married, Lambda Legal today released a first-of-its-kind toolkit to help youth, parents and community members make sure their local school district is teaching accurate and inclusive sex education.

In the new school year, public school districts in 49 states will teach these so-called "abstinence only" programs, according to Lambda Legal. To qualify for highly sought-after federal funding, these programs must teach that sex within marriage is "the expected standard of human sexual activity" and that any sexual relationships outside of marriage are "likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects." These programs either don't mention homosexuality or limit it to discussions of immorality, promiscuity and HIV/AIDS.

"These programs aren't helping kids postpone sex - they're feeding them inaccurate information, telling them a tiny fraction of the story, and ultimately putting their health at risk by not teaching them about safer sex," said Jonathan Givner, Lambda Legal staff attorney. "Most people oppose these 'abstinence-only' programs, but they don't know whether this is being taught in their schools. This new resource gives people the tools they need to find out what's being taught and then to make sure young people are getting real sex education."

In 1999, 23 percent of high school teachers said their schools taught "abstinence-only" in sex education classes, up from only 2 percent in 1988, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. In the past six years, the federal government has devoted more than half a billion dollars to these programs - and President Bush is lobbying heavily for even more funding.

The new Lambda Legal toolkit - "Tell Me the (Whole) Truth: School Supplies To Get Real Sex Education" - is the first action-oriented resource specifically addressing the anti-gay aspects of "abstinence-only" programs and their effect on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. The toolkit, which is also online at http://www.LambdaLegal.org, includes:

The toolkit is designed to be used not just by students and their parents, but also by local community members - specifically including LGBT people. "These programs render our youth invisible and have potentially deadly consequences for them" Givner said. "We all have a responsibility to start asking questions and getting answers about this, which this toolkit helps do."

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, the transgendered, and people with HIV or AIDS through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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Link directly to Lambda's news release:
http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/documents/record?record=1137

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Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
http://www.lambdalegal.org
National Headquarters
120 Wall Street, Suite 1500
New York, NY 10005-3904
212-809-8585 phone
212-809-0055 fax
pressqueries@lambdalegal.org

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Last updated 9/9/2002 by Jean Richter, richter@eecs.Berkeley.EDU