Arizona State Profile
The Department of Health Services and community-based organizations in Arizona received $5,595,566 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007.1
Arizona does not have a law that requires schools to teach sexuality education or sexually transmitted disease (STD)/HIV education. However, Arizona law does state that if a school chooses to teach these topics, instruction must be age-appropriate and must stress abstinence. Further, if a school chooses to teach HIV education, such instruction must be medically accurate, but cannot promote a “homosexual lifestyle,” portray “homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style,” or “suggest that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”
Arizona Administrative Code R7-2-303 states that schools may “provide a specific elective lesson or lessons concerning sex education as a supplement to the health course of study.” In order for a student to take the class, the school must have the “written request of the student’s parents or guardian.” In addition, the school must:
The local governing board:
Arizona’s Comprehensive Health Education Standards do not include STD/HIV education. Arizona requires written consent for any sexuality education class. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.
See Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 15-716, 15-102 and R7-2-303.
Legislation to Require Standards for Teen Pregnancy and Parenting; Could Lead to Funding for Programs
Senate Bill 1192 would have required the Department of Education, in consultation with the Department of Health Services and the Department of Economic Security, to develop standards for teen pregnancy and parenting programs that provide services for pregnant and/or parenting teens. The programs would include parenting education and life skills instruction. School districts or charter schools with effective programs would be eligible for funding. The bill was introduced in January 2006 to the Senate Committee on Education K–12 and the Senate Committee on Rules, but failed to pass.
Family Information and Youth Protection Act Introduced
Senate Bill 1417, introduced in January 2006, would have required any school that “receives abstinence-only funding or that elects to teach abstinence-only education in any grade six through twelve” to provide notice to the parents or guardians of pupils.2 The notification must state that their children will not receive “information about methods, other than abstinence, for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including the human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome” as well as other information about what will not be taught in the class.3 The notification must also inform parents that they have the right to review such curricula and explain how they can comment on the curriculum. It must also explain that a parent can excuse their child from the class(es). The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Education K-12 and the Senate Committee on Rules, but failed to pass.
Middle School Sexuality Education Program Expands
The Kyrene School District voted in August 2006 to change the content of sexuality education classes to include definitions of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well as oral and anal sex in discussions of risky sexual behavior. The new curriculum decision, which affects students in grades 6–8, was unanimously approved by the Kyrene School Board.
Some parents were uncomfortable with the decision to discuss oral and anal sex with middle school students. “That makes a lot of people uncomfortable,” one community member explained. “I’m not sure that they [sixth graders] are developmentally ready as a group. They are very young.”
Many educators and parents, however, supported the board’s decision. “It’s very important that students have the information they need to make good decisions,” the district’s director of curriculum and instruction explained. “They’re hearing phenomenal amounts of misinformation. Education’s about connecting the dots.” A member of the committee that recommended the curriculum changes explained that the group thought it was “critical” that certain sexual behaviors were explained in detail, “because a large percentage of young people think Bill Clinton was correct that oral sex is not the same as intercourse.”4
An eighth-grader at Kyrene del Pueblo Middle School agreed that her peers needed to understand that STDs can be contracted through a variety of behaviors other than vaginal intercourse. “They think only intercourse is going to get them into sickness,” she said.5
Tucson-Based Christian Group Travels to Uganda to Promote Abstinence
Breakdown, a dance and theater group comprised of teenagers, planned a trip to Uganda to advance its abstinence-only-until-marriage message and opposition to abortion.
The group was excited about the chance to carry its goals abroad. One 18-year-old member discussed the personal significance of the group, “its like this team has brought me closer to God. We’re all very educated about abstinence—we know what God wants us to do and what we want for our lives.”6 The group, Ministry of Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Tucson, has received grants from the State Department of Health Services.
Book Depicting Date Rape Raises Questions about Censorship
Controversy arose in southern Arizona schools over the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which includes gay characters and a scene depicting a date rape. Officials weighed whether or not to allow the book in school libraries.
The State Superintendent of Public Instruction recommended banning the book from all school libraries. However, each school may decide whether to allow any books into its own library. While some school districts oppose the banning of books altogether, others believe that censorship is necessary and removed the book from the shelves. For example, the high school in the Flowing Wells Unified School District reviewed the book, and decided to make it available on reserve only.
The author of the book, Stephen Chbosky, agrees that the publication is not appropriate for elementary school students. However, he believes that high schools should allow the book because it contains an important message for teenagers.7
The Arizona Department of Health Services received $1,034,776 in federal Title V funding in Fiscal Year 2007. The Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage grant requires states to provide three state-raised dollars or the equivalent in services for every four federal dollars received. The state match may be provided in part or in full by local groups. The Arizona State Legislature appropriated $1,000,000 to provide the state match.
The Department of Health in Arizona disburses funding to 13 sub-grantees: Arizona Psychology Services, Arizona Youth Partnership, Catholic Charities Maricopa, Catholic Charities Yavapai, Child and Family Resources, Inc., Pima Prevention Partnership, Pinal County Division of Public Health, and University of Arizona Maricopa Cooperative Extension. These sub-grantees use a variety of curricula including Choosing the Best LIFE, Choosing the Best PATH, Girl Talk/Guy Talk, WAIT (Why Am I Tempted) Training, and Worth the Wait.
Arizona Youth Partnership, for example, uses both Choosing the Best LIFE and WAIT Training.SIECUS reviewed WAIT Training and found that it contains little medical or biological information and almost no information about STDs, including HIV/AIDS. Instead, it contains information and statistics about marriage, many of which are outdated and not supported by scientific research. It also contains messages of fear and shame and biased views of gender, sexual orientation, and family type. For example, WAIT Training explains, “men sexually are like microwaves and women sexually are like crockpots…. A woman is stimulated more by touch and romantic words. She is far more attracted by a man’s personality while a man is stimulated by sight. A man is usually less discriminating about those to whom he is physically attracted.”9 (See the CBAE and AFLA section for more information on the Choosing the Best LIFE.)
In addition to providing middle school students with abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, Arizona Youth Partnership also operates a Healthy Marriages campaign. The mission of this effort, which includes family workshops, is “Building Healthy Marriages; Nurturing Healthy Marriages; and Sustaining Healthy Marriages.”10
Another sub-grantee, Crisis Pregnancy Center of Phoenix, Inc., conducts an abstinence-only-until-marriage program throughout the metro area. Crisis pregnancy centers typically advertise as providing medical services and then use anti-abortion propaganda, misinformation, and fear and shame tactics to dissuade women facing unintended pregnancy from exercising their right to choose. More often than not, crisis pregnancy centers have ties to a specific religion. On its website, the organization says it is “part of a single organization which rests upon the truth of God’s Word—the 66 books of the Old and New Testament. It is this solid foundation of truth that both defines and propels our mission of ‘saving lives and protecting’ futures. The Bible is the source from where our convictions arise regarding pregnancy and sexual health, and the motivation driving our loving and merciful outreach into the community in the form of our many services.”11The Crisis Pregnancy Center of Phoenix, Inc. two commercially available curricula, Aspire and Worth the Wait, in its abstinence-only-until-marriage programming.12 ASPIRE: Live your life. Be free. is based on one set of values and opinions— that marriage should be everyone’s ultimate goal and that sex outside of marriage is wrong— which it tries to pass off as universally held truths. In an effort to convince students that these opinions are facts, the curriculum provides incomplete and biased information, promotes fear and shame, and undermines young people’s confidence in their own decision-making abilities. For example, students are asked which life decision—college, career, or marriage—will have the most impact on their life. The answer is marriage because “College is for a few years, and you may have a number of careers. But marriage is for life.” (See the CBAE and AFLA section for more information on Worth the Wait.)
In 2003, Arizona released an evaluation of its Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program, which served more than 123,000 youth in schools, community centers, and detention centers between 1998 and 2003. Fourteen different curricula were used, including A.C. Green’s Game Plan, Choosing the Best LIFE, Choosing the Best PATH, Choosing the Best WAY, FACTS, and WAIT Training. The programs were evaluated through surveys of the participants conducted before the programs (pre-test), immediately afterwards (post-test), and 3–13 months after program participation (follow-up).
Post-test results showed an increase in teens’ intent to pursue abstinence; however, follow-up surveys conducted months later found statistically significant declines in teens’ intent to pursue abstinence.13 Among teens that had remained abstinent, 47% reported that they would likely become sexually active in the next year and 80% reported that they would likely become sexually active by age 20.14 According to the evaluation, post-test results also revealed, “the direction of change on attitudes toward birth control was toward a less favorable view at post-test. This might be explained by the program’s focus on the failure rates of contraceptives as opposed to their availability, use, and access.”15
The presentation of the abstinence-only-until-marriage message was also perceived as moralistic by many students and parents. The evaluators explained, “Programs that present the message in a fashion that cultivates skills and practice are more likely to be effective than programs that are perceived as saying ‘Do this because it is right.’”16
Future Title VAbstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding
In January 2008, Governor Napolitano announced that Arizona would no longer accept Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding. Governor Napolitano emphasized that she would only accept federal dollars that could be spent on “a curriculum that provides comprehensive and medically accurate sex education.”17 Her decision will go into effect for Fiscal Year 2009.
Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees
There are five CBAE grantees in Arizona: Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Inc, Arizona-Mexico Border Health Foundation, Arizona Youth Partnership (receives two grants), Catholic Charities Community Services, and Pima Prevention Partnership. There are two AFLA grantees in Arizona: Pima Prevention Partnership and Winslow Unified School District #1.
The Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Inc. organization is a CBAE grantee that works with thousands of Arizonian youth through several different programs, including a “fitness and character development program for 7th and 8th grade students.”18 This program, “Power Fitness for Youth,” includes an abstinence-only-until-marriage component, “Pure Power.”19
“Pure Power” includes misleading and inaccurate information. For example, it states that HIV infection “can also occur from any kind of risky behavior.”20 In reality, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV is transmitted through only certain behaviors, including sexual contact with an infected person, sharing needles and/or syringes with an infected person, and, less commonly, through transfusions of infected blood or blood clotting factors. In addition, babies born to HIV-infected women may also contract HIV during birth or after birth through breast-feeding.21
Another CBAE grantee, Arizona-Mexico Border Health Foundation, conducts an abstinence-only-until-marriage program focused on school-based education and parental engagement efforts. It uses Worth the Wait, a fear-based abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum, in this program.22 SIECUS reviewed Worth the Wait and found that it covers some important topics related to sexuality such as puberty, anatomy, and sexual abuse, and that the curriculum is based on reliable sources of data. Despite these strengths, Worth the Wait relies on messages of fear, discourages contraceptive use, and promotes biased views of gender, marriage, and pregnancy options. For example, the curriculum explains, “teenage sexual activity can create a multitude of medical, legal, and economic problems not only for the individuals having sex but for society as a whole.”23
Arizona-Mexico Border Health Foundation targets Spanish-speaking members of the community through the use of “promoteras,” who are hired to speak to their neighbors and friends about the program.24
Catholic Charities Community Services, another CBAE grantee, operates in central and northern Arizona. The organization conducts the “Family Life Abstinence Education” abstinence-only-until-marriage program in public and private schools, and claims to reach over 30,000 youth and parents each year through this program.25
Pima Prevention Partnership, which receives both a CBAE and an AFLA grant (and is also a Title V sub-grantee), runs the abstinence-only-until-marriage program “Project Pledge.” The welcome on Project Pledge’s website states, “Believe it or not, this website has been developed so that we can be real with each other and share the facts without pulling any punches.”26
For its abstinence-only-until-marriage program, Pima Prevention Partnership uses the Choosing the Best curricula series for students in middle school and high school.27 SIECUS reviewed two of the curricula produced by Choosing the Best, Inc.—Choosing the Best LIFE (for high school students) and Choosing the Best PATH (for middle school students). These reviews found that the curricula name numerous negative consequences of premarital sexuality activity and suggest that teens should feel guilty, embarrassed, and ashamed of sexual behavior. For example, Choosing the Best LIFE states that, “Relationships often lower the self-respect of both partners—one feeling used, the other feeling like the user. Emotional pain can cause a downward spiral leading to intense feelings of lack of worthlessness.” Choosing the Best PATH says, “Sexual activity also can lead to the trashing of a person’s reputation, resulting in the loss of friends.”28
Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007
Adolescent Health Contact1