The Nation reports that the discredited abstinence education movement that flourished under the Bush administration is trying to rebrand itself now that federal dollars (and attention) aren't so easy to come by. Valerie Huber, who used to oversee Ohio's programs, makes an appearance — she's now executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association:
At an April 29 Capitol Hill briefing, Huber told the room that abstinence-only education is "not a 'just say no' message." "This is not abstinence only, this is a holistic message that prepares and gives students all of the information they need to make healthy decisions," Huber said. In fact, the NAEA isn't even calling its programs "abstinence only" anymore—now they're "abstinence centered."
Emphasis added, to illustrate how the God squaders are once again trying to obscure their real intentions. And their failures:
The NAEA is also jumping on the science bandwagon; on its AbstinenceWorks website, much of the home page is taken up by a graph showing the decrease in teen pregnancy rates, presumably to demonstrate its programs' effectiveness. The problem? The graph conveniently stops in 2006; the teen pregnancy rate in the United States has actually increased for the second year in a row.
Insert your own Bristol Palin joke here.
An article on a Christian web site (no longer online but quoted in a comprehensive ’05 post about Huber on the now-defunct blog Hypothetically Speaking) described the western Ohio mom's view this way: "Many organizations support abstinence, but it is abstinence until you feel you're ready or simply feel like it. In other words, we're all abstinent until we do it again. Valerie Huber is advocating a different code of morality — the biblical standard of abstinence until marriage."
The same Hypothetically Speaking post also quotes a PD article (also no longer available) on a Case Western researcher's examination of abstinence-only education in Ohio, which
… found that some abstinence-until-marriage programs:
• Overstate the failure rates of condom use, blame contraceptives for poor mental health among youths and erroneously suggest that birth control pills will increase a girl's future chances of infertility.
• Misrepresent religious conviction as scientific fact. One program urges teens to "follow God's plan for purity," while another recommends books that are religious in nature.
• Contain inaccurate or misleading information about the transmission or detection of sexual diseases. One curriculum described HIV as a virus that can remain undetected either by test or physical symptoms for six months to 10 years, when in fact most antibodies are present within two to eight weeks after exposure. The curriculum also suggested incorrectly that HIV can be transmitted through tears and open-mouth kissing.
• Is not applicable to gay teens because same-sex marriages are illegal in Ohio.
Facts schmacts. Huber is a shameless dissembler. Watch the video below, a 2007 interview with MSNBC about how report after report after report has shown the ineffectiveness of the "Who Would Jesus Do?" approach to sex ed. Huber repeatedly tries to imply that these findings are biased and/or wrong, without actually saying so — because that might prompt a follow-up question asking for specifics. Eventually she admits that her basis for rejecting these reports is the more favorable finding of another study — one conducted by a Virginia abstinence-only group.
In her final comment, the only sincere-sounding statement in the entire interview, Huber reveals more than she probably intended: "Teens receive all the information necessary [from abstinence education] to make a good decision regarding their sexual health." In other words, they get all the information people like Huber believe they should get, in order to make the decision that people like Huber want them to make.
She repeats that assertion, almost verbatim, in the more recent video below, from a presentation on the rebranding of the movement. Nothing has changed, and the casual deceptiveness is breathtaking. Wasting taxpayer money on evangelism passed off as health policy is bad enough, but her sin is much greater than that. Her quest to please her god is putting lives are at stake, and the government's role in this scam needs to stop. — Frank Lewis
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.