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Response to the New York Times Editorial of July 19th

To the Editor:

Re: “Muzzling Sex Education on Anything but Abstinence”, July 19, 2006.

Mr. Freedman makes the common error of referring to authentic abstinence education programs as "abstinence only". The implication is that these "just say no" programs are rife with inaccurate medical data and unrealistic expectations. This caricature of authentic abstinence education programs is entirely wrong.

The federal statutory guidelines (the A-H Criteria) require young persons to be educated about the medical and psychological risks associated with sexual activity outside of marriage. The guidelines also require strategies for avoiding risky behavior, education regarding the importance of achieving self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity, and education regarding the documented health and economic benefits associated with marriage.

Abstinence education programs are demonstrating compelling results nationwide. Here in the New York metropolitan area, our Healthy Respect Abstinence Education Program has reached nearly 3,000 students. We have turned to Robin H. Rogers-Dillon, Ph.D., Assoc. Professor of Sociology at Queens College to conduct an intensive and ongoing program evaluation.

Individuals have a right to advocate for traditional, failed sex education programs (however wrong-headed that may be), but not at the expense of the truth about the effectiveness of authentic abstinence programs.


John P. Margand, Esq.
Executive Director

Dr. Nanci Coppola
Director of Curriculum and Programs