The GAO released a legal opinion yesterday affirming that abstinence-only education materials must include accurate information on sexually transmitted infections and the effectiveness of condoms. To date, HHS had insisted that materials produced by abstinence grantees do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Public Health Service Act, which mandates as much. HHS has instead maintained that:
“Grantees may address issues related to [STIs] in communicating the importance of abstinence, they are to address these issues only within the broader context of abstinence education.”
The GAO’s legal review came at the request of Congressional dems including the ever-muckraking Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). Remember, it was Waxman’s 2004 report on abstinence-only sex education curricula that found rampant inaccuracies.
Waxman’s report was roundly denounced by the religious right as partisan. Let’s hope the GAO’s finding resonates through the politics.