The ACLU’s Clara Bell Duvall Project has long been battling the tidal wave of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in public schools. Until very recently, the federal government had been battling right back by funding them. These programs have been proven to misinform students about the realities of sexuality and sexual health, often using religion instead of science and discriminating against LGBT youth.
Here in PA, our very own Sen. Arlen Specter has been a master at securing earmarks for these disastrous programs. In 2003, Specter was the first (later becoming the only) senator to earmark funding for AOUM as state after state slashed funding. In fact, from 2005-2009, Specter earmarked nearly $8 million dollars, only fueling the raging storm.
This year, after Specter switched parties, we wondered what would happen to his appropriations requests. After doing some digging, we discovered that Sen. Specter (D-PA) was not planning to earmark any of his FY2010 appropriations money for the same AOUM programs that Sen. Specter (R-PA) had so eagerly given in previous years. A call to his appropriations staffer in D.C. confirmed our find. She explained that due to the declining economic situation, Specter had received an increase in the number of requests for appropriations. Apparently, the Senator needed to shift funding over to hospitals and universities. Hmm. Well, whatever the reason, we’re happy he’s moved on…
We hope this isn’t a mere dalliance, but actually a commitment to a new relationship. Perhaps he’ll start his wooing by co-sponsoring the REAL (Responsible Education About Life) Act, which calls for sex ed programs that are medically accurate, age-appropriate, and scientifically based. After all, President Obama has already cut abstinence-only-until-marriage funding out of his proposed budget for next year. Maybe this time around, our legislators will start adding programs that do work instead of just eliminating those that don’t.
Ruth and Dina in Philadelphia