The Washington Post reports that a growing number of states is rejecting federal funding for "abstinence-only" sex education programs in response to evidence that such programs are ineffective.
At least 14 states have either notified the federal government that they will no longer be requesting the funds or are not expected to apply, forgoing more than $15 million of the $50 million available, officials said. Virginia was the most recent state to opt out.
Two other states -- Ohio and Washington -- have applied but stipulated they would use the money for comprehensive sex education, effectively making themselves ineligible, federal officials said. While Maryland and the District are planning to continue applying for the money, other states are considering withdrawing as well.
Until this year, only four states had passed up the funding.
"We're concerned about this," said Stan Koutstaal of the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program. "My greatest concern about states dropping out is that these are valuable services and programs. It's the youths in these states who are missing out."
The number of states spurning the money has grown even as Congress considers boosting overall funding for abstinence-only education to $204 million, with most of it going directly to community organizations.
The trend has triggered intense lobbying of state legislators and governors around the country. Supporters of the programs are scrambling to reverse the decisions, while opponents are pressuring more states to join the trend.
Federal officials say they are "concerned" about this trend, and critics of "abstinence-only" hope this leads to less restrictive, or differently targeted, funding conditions. Should the state trend continue, I would hope it would prompt reconsideration of the federal role here. If states don't want this money, that's just one more reason to end the federal funding altogether. Congress, however, seems ready to increase funding by over 15 percent.