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Abstinence Day on the Hill Brings Bipartisan Message to Washington

Healthy Respect traveled to Washington this week to take part in the annual Abstinence Day on the Hill, sponsored by the National Abstinence Education Association. The event featured speakers from both sides of the political aisle and made the case for continued funding of effective programs that are changing young lives for the better.

Held in the Rayburn House Office Building, the event drew students and educators from seventeen organizations in 10 states and the District of Columbia to make the case for abstinence. Additional support was provided by the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council. The program began with information and education sessions and ended with participants from many different states visiting their respective congressional representatives to talk about the positive aspects of abstinence programs.

Advocates for abstinence conducted more than 50 meetings with Members of Congress and Congressional staffers to share the message that abstinence education is more than a "just say no" approach to sex. Participants from around the country united around the following themes:

  1. Abstinence education is much more than "just say no," but rather engages students in making healthy choices necessary to achieve long-term personal and career goals.

  2. Abstinence education works, as evidenced by the growing body of peer-reviewed studies validating their effectiveness in delaying sexual debut and reducing teen sexual activity among teens sexually experienced teens.

  3. Abstinence education receives much less money than that available for "comprehensive" sex education.

  4. Abstinence Education should receive continued congressional support given the promising results of programs and the growing support of parents.

Bipartisan Effort

Congressman Lee Terry, a Republican from Nebraska addressed students and educators in the morning session, while Congressman Mike McIntyre, a Democrat from North Carolina, addressed the afternoon session. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee and Deputy Minority Whip, also addressed participants. Valerie Huber, NAEA's Executive Director, presented Congressman McIntyre with the Congressional Champion Award for Abstinence Education.

To mark the day, Congressmen Terry and McIntyre issued a bi-partisan Dear Colleague letter in the House of Representatives, calling on the entire Congress to support increased funding for Community Based Abstinence Education (CBAE). Senator Sam Brownback, Republican from Kansas, circulated the same letter in the U.S. Senate.

"This was a well-coordinated and effective effort to present abstinence programs as they truly are, not as they are often portrayed by opponents and the media," said John P. Margand, Esq., Healthy Respect's Chief Executive Officer. "The day was organized, focused and positive, with people from both parties seeking to de-politicize the abstinence issue and show that continued funding is needed for the health and well-being of the young people who are benefiting from these quality abstinence programs. It was important to see both Democrats and Republicans promoting this important issue because the welfare of young people crosses all political lines and gets to the heart of what good government is about - providing for the next generation and the future of our country," Mr. Margand said. "I was very proud to be part of this bipartisan process."