Press Release: Out with the Good, In With the Bad: Advocates’ Statement on the Draft Spending Bill
Last week, the Senate Labor Health & Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Committee joined the House LHHS in passing spending bills that essentially terminate the effective Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) programs . With the House’s $91 million reduction and the Senate’s $81 million reduction, Congress is yet again putting the health and well-being of young people on the chopping block.
Adding insult to injury, both the House and Senate propose to increase funding for AOUM programs, which not only withhold lifesaving sexual health information for young people, but also relies on shaming, stereotyping and stigmatizing curricula that is harmful for young people.
We call on Congress to do better, to stand up for young people and work with us to ensure that every young person gets the quality sex education they need and have a right to.
Advocates strongly condemns the House LHHS Subcommittee Draft Spending Bill, released on June 16. This shocking attack on effective, evidence-based programs would unravel much of the progress that has been made toward providing young people with the skills they need to make healthy decisions.
The bill would slash the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative by 90 percent, which is nearly $100 million, as well as removing the requirement that programs in that initiative be evidence-based.
The proposed bill would instead provide an additional $10 million for so-called “sexual risk avoidance” education. These programs are just failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs by another name. By denying young people information about contraception and condoms, and refusing to teach the skills they need to protect from unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV, we are ignoring reality and robbing them of skills they will need throughout their lives.
The bill refers to “success sequencing,” a pet term of conservatives that means that young people should be pushed to complete their education, marry, get a good job, and have children, in that order, supposedly to avoid poverty. This one-size-fits-all view of success is exclusionary and unrealistic when across ALL age groups, 40 percent of all babies born were not planned.
Among Millennials who have had children, 64 percent were not married. Is this large majority simply off the path to success? Rather than defining what relationship and childbearing choices constitute “success,” we should be empowering young people to reach their full potential, complete their education, and avoid poverty regardless of when or if they decide to have children or get married.
If Congress really wants to support the well-being of young people, then they should focus on legislation that ensures young people’s access to education, opportunity and accessible and affordable health care services. This appropriations bill is a betrayal of young people and an unraveling of progress made in this decade. Young people need real information and skills, not failed programs.
Advocates for Youth is a national non-profit that advocates for policies and champions programs that recognize young people’s rights to: honest sexual health information; accessible, confidential, and affordable sexual health services; and the resources and opportunities necessary to create sexual health equity for all youth. Advocates’ Youth Activist Network stands 75,000 strong on 1,000 campuses and in tens of thousands of communities.
|For Immediate Release||June 30, 2015|