On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) is launching a $1 million “Parents for Truth” campaign. Its mission is to enlist 1 million parents to back abstinence-only education by lobbying local schools and working to elect supportive lawmakers. Last week, the NAEA e-mailed “30,000 supporters, practitioners and parents to try to recruit participants and plans to e-mail 100,000 this week.”
There is very little that is truthful about this “Parents for Truth” campaign. Not only is it pushing misleading, discredited claims about abstinence-only education, but the entire effort appears to be run by unethical individuals with strong ties in the anti-gay movement:
– Valerie Huber, the NAEA’s executive director, was found guilty of “neglect of duty” while at the Ohio Department of Health in 2006. She “participated to a substantial degree in the selection of a vendor” for which she also worked. Huber was given a one-day suspension from her position.
– Melissa Cox was one of the vendors with which Huber had ties. Cox had previously worked for the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, which advocated “curing” gays through “conversion therapy. An abstinence-only conference planned by Huber in October 2005 had been criticized for its “overt Christian messages and anti-gay speakers, including ones openly recruiting for the ‘ex-gay’ movement.”
– As noted by the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, NAEA has hired the PR firm Creative Response Concepts to “develop and implement a national public relations campaign to improve the public understanding and perception of abstinence education.” Creative Response Concepts was best known for leading the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” campaign in 2004. Its other clients have included the RNC, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, and the Discovery Institute.
Abstinence-only programs don’t work. Last November, 10 leading scientists in the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health warned that abstinence-only education withholds “information that may be critical to protecting the health of young people.” More recently, health experts testified to Congress that these programs “have not cut teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases or delayed the age at which sex begins.”