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Kentucky State Profile

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services and community-based organizations in Kentucky received $3,070,315 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007. 1

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All Kentucky schools follow the Department of Education’s Program of Studies, required instruction for students in grades six through 12. Through personal and physical health education, students learn “how decision-making relates to responsible sexual behavior (e.g., abstinence, preventing pregnancy, preventing HIV/STDs), impacts physical, mental and social well being of an individual.” Students also learn about the basic reproductive system and functions. No specific curriculum is required. However, state funds are available for local health departments to use to help young people postpone sexual involvement.

Kentucky does not require parental permission for students to participate in sexuality or HIV/AIDS education nor does it say whether parents or guardians may remove their children from such classes.

See Kentucky Department of Education’s Program of Studies.

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Recent Legislation

SIECUS is not aware of any proposed legislationregarding sexuality education in Kentucky.

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Events of Note 

A Single Complaint Prohibits Class Discussion of Standard Exam-related Novel

March 2007; Louisville, KY

In March 2007, administrators at Eastern High School barred teachers from discussing Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved despite the fact that the book is often covered on the Advanced Placement English Exam given each May.

The controversy began when one parent objected to the book’s themes of racism and sexuality. The principal agreed with the parent, saying he could not “support some of the language and references to racism and bestiality.” He also said he could not “condone a class discussing the kinds of talk” that is prohibited in the halls.2  The principal prohibited the book from being discussed in class, though he pointed out that it technically is not “banned.” He replaced the Princeton professor’s award-winning book with Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness.

Students lambasted the principal’s unilateral decision. One senior said, “Students are furious, the teachers are furious, and the parents are furious that the complaint of one parent outweighs that of everyone else.”3 He went on to explain that by banning the classroom discussions, the principal is putting him and his peers at a disadvantage on the AP English Exam, “Now because of the censorship we cannot discuss these images with our teachers and are now left clueless.”4

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Kentucky’s Youth: Statistical Information of Note5 

  1. In 2007, 52% of female high school students and 49% of male high school students in Kentucky reported ever having had sexual intercourse compared to 46% of female high school students and 50% of male high school students nationwide.
  2. In 2007, 6% of female high school students and 10% of male high school students in Kentucky reported having had sexual intercourse before age 13 compared to 4% of female high school students and 10% of male high school students nationwide.
  3. In 2007, 14% of female high school students and 15% of male high school students in Kentucky reported having had four or more lifetime sexual partners compared to 12% of female high school students and 18% of male high school students nationwide.
  4. In 2007, 40% of female high school students and 33% of male high school students in Kentucky reported being currently sexually active (defined as having had sexual intercourse in the three months prior to the survey) compared to 36% of female high school students and 34% of male high school students nationwide.
  5. In 2007, among those high school students who reported being currently sexually active, 53% of females and 68% of males in Kentucky reported having used condoms the last time they had sexual intercourse compared to 55% of females and 69% of males nationwide.
  6. In 2007, among those high school students who reported being currently sexually active, 25% of females and 15% of males in Kentucky reported having used birth control pills the last time they had sexual intercourse compared to 19% of females and 13% of males nationwide.
  7. In 2007, among those high school students who reported being currently sexually active, 17% of females and 21% of males in Kentucky reported having used alcohol or drugs the last time they had sexual intercourse compared to 18% of females and 28% of males nationwide.
  8. In 2007, 87% of high school students in Kentucky reported having been taught about AIDS/HIV in school compared to 90% of high school students nationwide.

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Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services received $817,297 in federal Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage 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. In Kentucky, sub-grantees are required to make up the match. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services oversees all Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding.

Kentucky allocates a majority of its Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding to 16 local public health departments (see the funding chart for more information on these).6  The remainder is available for non-profit/governmental agencies and is awarded to five sub-grantees: AA Pregnancy Care Center; Countrywide Action Reachout Effort, Inc.; Marsha’s Place (Pregnancy Resource Center of Henderson County); New Hope Center; and Pregnancy Helpline, Inc. (Pregnancy Resource Center). All of these organizations are crisis pregnancy centers. 

Both the local health departments and the sub-grantees use a variety of curricula including Choosing the Best, Mike Long’s Everybody is Not Doing IT, and Why kNOw.

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.”7

SIECUS also reviewed the commercially available videotape of Mike Long’s presentation, Everyone’s Not Doing IT. In his presentation to students, Mike Long, a self-described pioneer in the abstinence movement lectures, preaches, and tells young people in no uncertain terms that premarital sex is morally wrong, that they are incapable of making decisions for themselves, and that everyone should aspire to marry and raise children in a “traditional” family setting. In a style that falls somewhere between that of an infomercial spokesperson and a televangelist, Long relays messages of fear and shame and provides medically inaccurate information. For example, he tells his audience “You’ll never know whom you want to marry… Maybe that man or woman will regard virginity as an important indicator of character, and maybe, if you’ve been sexually active, he or she will find out. (If you’ve been pregnant or had a sexually transmitted disease, your chances of marrying such a person may be even slimmer.)”8 

SIECUS reviewed Why kNOw and found that it offers limited information about important topics in human sexuality such as puberty, anatomy, and human reproduction, and no information about sexual orientation and gender identity. The information that is included is outdated, inaccurate, and misleading. In addition, Why kNOw  relies on negative messages, distorts information, and presents biased views on gender, marriage, family structure, sexual orientation, and pregnancy options. For example, the curriculum tells students that the tradition of lifting the veil shows that “the groom [is] the only man allowed to uncover the bride,” and demonstrates “her respect for him by illustrating that she [has] not allowed any other man to lay claim to her.”9 

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Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees 

There are three CBAE grantees in Kentucky: A Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center, New Hope Center Inc, and Women for Life, doing business as AA Pregnancy Help Center. There are no AFLA grantees in Kentucky. In addition, Heritage of Kentucky receives a discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

All three CBAE grantees are crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). 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.

Women for Life, doing business as AA Pregnancy Help Center, does not provide information on its abstinence-only-until-marriage program, but its website contains biased information about abortion. For example, the website says, “Abortion is not just a simple procedure; it may have many side effects. Abortion has been associated with preterm birth, emotion and psychological impact, and spiritual consequences.”10 In truth, abortion is a generally safe procedure, and medically sound research has shown that first trimester abortions cause almost no long-term fertility problems.11

A Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center states that it is a “Christian pro-life ministry… dedicated to meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of men and women in a crisis pregnancy situation while providing abstinence education and offering help for post-abortion trauma.”12 While CPCs often refer to post-abortion stress, there is no sound scientific evidence linking abortion to subsequent mental health problems. Neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Psychiatric Association recognize “post-abortion stress syndrome” as a legitimate medical condition.13

New Hope Center, Inc. explains that its abstinence-only-until-marriage programs cover the following topics: “pressure to be sexually active; risks of sexual activity, STD’s and HIV, pregnancy, emotional consequences; setting boundaries and being assertive; making healthy choices and goal setting; choosing the best: the rewards of abstinence; and relationships and dating.”14

Heritage of Kentucky, which receives a discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides several different programs including Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education and Heritage Keepers Life Skills Education.15 SIECUS reviewed Heritage Keepers, Abstinence Education I and found that itcontains very little information about important topics in human sexuality such as puberty, anatomy, and sexual behavior. Even topics that are frequently discussed in detail in other abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, such as condoms and STDs, receive very little mention. Instead, the curriculum devotes most of its lessons to the importance of marriage and abstinence before marriage. It relies on messages of fear and shame and promotes biased views of gender, marriage, and pregnancy options. For example, the curriculum tells students “Males are more sight orientated whereas females are more touch orientated. This is why girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn't invite lustful thoughts.”16

Heritage of Kentucky is affiliated with Heritage Community Services of South Carolina, and states that its programs “utilize the Heritage Method.”17

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Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007

Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Grantee Length of Grant Amount of Grant Type of Grant (includes Title V, CBAE, AFLA, and other funds)

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

http://chfs.ky.gov

$817,297  federal
$1,071,933 state

Title V

AA Pregnancy Care Center

$16,380

Title V sub-grantee

Barren River District

$40,533

Title V sub-grantee

Bourbon County Health Department

$23,118

Title V sub-grantee

Boyd County Health Department

$23,235

Title V sub-grantee

Christian County Health Department

$42,277

Title V sub-grantee

Countywide Action Reachout Effort, Inc.
www.henrycountycareteam.org

$54,630

Title V sub-grantee

Cumberland Valley District

$43,267

Title V sub-grantee

Garrard County Health Department

$28,243

Title V sub-grantee

Jessamine County Health Department

$39,947

Title V sub-grantee

Knox County Health Department

$33,309

Title V sub-grantee

Lexington/Fayette Health Department

$32,552

Title V sub-grantee

Lincoln Trail District

$28,184

Title V sub-grantee

Louisville Metro Health Department

$39,656

Title V sub-grantee

Magoffin County Health Department

$46,469

Title V sub-grantee

Marsha’s Place (Pregnancy Resource Center of Henderson County)
marshasplace.org

$20,153

Title V sub-grantee

Monroe County Health Department

$23,235

Title V sub-grantee

Muhlenberg County Health Department

$24,225

Title V sub-grantee

New Hope Center, Inc.

$48,958

Title V sub-grantee

DUAL GRANTEE
2005–2008
www.newhopecenter.com

$799,500

CBAE

Northern Kentucky District Health Department

$39,365

Title V sub-grantee

North Central Health Department

$74,537

Title V sub-grantee

Pregnancy Helpline, Inc. (Pregnancy Resource Center)
www.pregnancyresourcecenter.net

$59,988

Title V sub-grantee

A Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center
2004–2007
www.doorofhope.com

$317,067

CBAE

Women for Life, Inc. (AA Pregnancy Help Center)
2005–2008
www.aapregnancyhelp.net

$799,935

CBAE

Heritage of Kentucky
2005–2008
www.heritageofky.org

$336,516

Discretionary

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Adolescent Health Contact18
Melissa Eastman
Cabinet for Health & Family Services
275 E. Main St.
Frankfurt, KY 40601
Phone: (502) 564-2154, ext. 3754

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Kentucky Organizations that Support Comprehensive Sexuality Education

ACLU of Kentucky
315 Guthrie St., Suite 300
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: (502) 581-1181
www.aclu-ky.org

Planned Parenthood of Louisville
1025 South 2nd St.
Louisville, KY 40203
Phone: (502) 584-2473
www.plannedparenthood.org/louisville

Kentucky Religious Coalition for
Reproductive Choice
P.O. Box 4065
Louisville, KY 40204
Phone: (866) 606-0988
www.krcrc.org

 

Kentucky Organizations that Oppose Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Democrats Pro-Life of Kentucky
200 Fenley Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206
hometown.aol.com/demolife

The Family Foundation of Kentucky
P.O. Box 911111
Lexington, KY 40951
Phone: (859) 255-5400
www.tffky.org

Kentucky Right to Life Association
134 Breckinridge Ln.
Louisville, KY 40207
Phone: (502) 895-5959
www.krla.org

 

Newspapers in Kentucky19

The Courier-Journal
Newsroom
525 Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: (502) 582-4011
www.courier-journal.com

Daily News
Newsroom
813 College St.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Phone: (270) 781-1700 www.bgdailynews.com

Lexington Herald-Leader
Newsroom
100 Midland Ave.
Lexington, KY 40508
Phone: (859) 231-3576
www.kentucky.com

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer
Newsroom
1401 Frederica St.
Owensboro, KY 42301
Phone: (270) 926-0123
www.messenger-inquirer.com

The Kentucky Post
Newsroom
1720 Gilbert Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: (513)852-4042
www.kypost.com

 

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References

  1. This refers to the fiscal year for the federal government which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; for example, Fiscal Year 2007 begins on October 1, 2006 and ends on September 30, 2007. 
  2. David Hawpe, “Beloved No More: Morrison's Book Ousted from Eastern AP Class,” The Courier-Journal (KY), 28 March 2007, accessed 29 March 2007, <www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007703281102>.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Unless otherwise cited, all statistical information comes from: Danice K. Eaton, et. al., “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2007,” Surveillance Summaries, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 57.SS-4 (6 June 2008), accessed 4 June 2008, http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm>.
  6. “Teen Pregnancy Prevention,” Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Families, accessed 31 March 2008, < http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ach/mch/teenpregnancy.htm>.
  7. Bruce Cook, Choosing the Best LIFE (Marietta, GA: Choosing the Best Inc., 2000); Bruce Cook, Choosing the Best PATH (Marietta, GA: Choosing the Best Inc., 2000). For more information, see SIECUS’ reviews of Choosing the Best LIFE and Choosing the Best PATH at <http://www.communityactionkit.org/curricula_reviews.html>. 
  8. Mike Long, Everyone Is NOT Doing IT! DVD and Book Series (Raleigh, NC: M.L Productions, 2004).
  9. Kris Frainie, Why kNOw Abstinence Education Program Teacher’s Manual, (Chattanooga, TN: Why kNOw Abstinence Education Programs, A Division of AAA Women’s Services, 2002). For more information, see SIECUS’ review of Why kNOw at <http://www.communityactionkit.org/reviews/WhyKnow.html>.
  10. “Abortion Education,” Assurance Care for Women and Girls, (2007-2008), accessed 14 March 2008, <http://www.assurancecare.org/abortioneducation.aspx>.
  11. Susan Cohen, “Abortion and Mental Health: Myths and Realities,” Guttmacher Policy Review (Summer 2006 Volume 9, Number 3), accessed 30 January 2007, <http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/09/3/gpr090308.html>.
  12. “Mission,” A Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center, accessed 14 March 2008, <http://www.doorofhope.com/mission.html>.
  13. Susan Cohen, “Abortion and Mental Health: Myths and Realities.”
  14. “Abstinence,” New Hope Center, accessed 14 March 2008, <http://www.newhopecenter.com/>.
  15. “Heritage of Kentucky,” Heritage of Kentucky, (2006), accessed 14 March 2008, <http://www.heritageofky.org/>.
  16. Anne Badgley and Carrie Musselman, Heritage Keepers Student Manual (Charleston, SC: Heritage Community Services, 1999). For more information, see SIECUS’ review of Heritage Keepers at
    <http://www.communityactionkit.org/reviews/HeritageKeepers.html>.
  17. “Heritage of Kentucky.”
  18. SIECUS has identified this person as a state-based contact for information on adolescent health and if applicable, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
  19. This section is a list of major newspapers in your state with contact information for their newsrooms. This list is by no means inclusive and does not contain the local level newspapers which are integral to getting your message out to your community. SIECUS strongly urges you to follow stories about the issues that concern you on the national, state, and local level by using an internet news alert service such as Google alerts, becoming an avid reader of your local papers, and establishing relationships with reporters who cover your issues. For more information on how to achieve your media goals visit the SIECUS Community Action Kit.

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