Montana State Profile
Montana received no federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007.1
Montana’s public education systemis supervised by the Montana Board of Public Education, which sets standards for curricula in public schools. According to the Montana Office of Public Instruction, the Board of Public Education requires a “health enhancement” program. According to the health enhancement program’s content standards, “a student must have basic knowledge and understanding of concepts that promote comprehensive health.” Specifically, by the end of fourth grade, students should be able to “identify personal health-enhancing strategies…that encompass injury/disease prevention, including HIV/AIDS prevention.” By the end of eighth grade, students should be able to understand the reproductive system as well as personal health-enhancing strategies about sexual activity and HIV/AIDS prevention. By graduation, students should be able to understand the impact of personal behaviors on the body, including the reproductive system, and have personal health-enhancing strategies about sexual activity and HIV/AIDS prevention. The Montana Board of Public Education released a Position Statement on HIV/AIDS that states, “All Montana school districts are strongly encouraged to develop appropriate communicable disease policies that specifically include HIV and AIDS, and which address age-appropriate education, rights and accommodations of students and staff who are infected, and safety procedures.”
Due to the autonomous nature of Montana school districts, standards for the sexuality education portion of the health enhancement program are not defined. Furthermore, there is no oversight of what is being taught or who is teaching these classes.
Montana neither requires 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 Montana Administrative Rules 10.54.7011, 7012, and 7013, 10.54.2501, and 10.55.905 and Montana Board of Public EducationPosition Statement on HIV/AIDS.
Healthy Youth Program Act Introduced
House Bill 612, introduced in February 2007, would have established a grant program within the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to fund cities, counties, or tribal health councils to carry out age-appropriate sexuality education that follows a specific curriculum. Components included that the instruction “must be age-appropriate and medically accurate; may not teach or promote religion; must stress the benefits of sexual abstinence while addressing the health needs of adolescents who have had or who are engaged in a sexual relationship; must provide information about the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier methods as a means to reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, HIV, AIDS, and other diseases and preventing unintended pregnancy; and must encourage family communication about sexuality among parents, other adult household members, and children.” Programs may not be out of compliance with any of the components. The bill addressed eligibility for Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds, stating that “because the requirements set forth in each program are in direct conflict, an eligible entity may not accept contracts from both programs.” DPHHS would have been responsible for overseeing all procedures, contracts, and awards related to the “Healthy Youth Program.” The bill died after it was tabled in the House Committee on Human Services on a party-line vote and missed the deadline for general bill transmittal.
School Board Defends Contentious High School Reading Selection
May 2007; Billings, MT
A school board panel in Billings School District Two refused a request by a group of parents to pull Richard Bradford’s Red Sky At Morning from the reading list for freshman English classes.
In February, one parent filed a complaint against the book, which details a young boy’s transition from life in Alabama to New Mexico during World War II, for “excessive profanity and…sexually suggestive passages.”2 When the parent contacted the teacher about the book her daughter was given an alternative book to read, but she pursued the complaint anyway, arguing that the book is inappropriate for all 14-year-olds.3
The parent and other supporters voiced their complaints to a review panel set up by the board of directors, but panel stood behind the novel, which has been used by the school district for over twenty years. The committee, composed of a principal, librarian, teacher, and parent, voted to keep the book. One member, an English teacher suggested that most high school reading selections include contentious themes and potentially offensive language. If they didn’t, she continued, “I can think of very few that would be left …No Nobel Prize books would be left or any of the books used in the AP classes.”4
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services would have been eligible for $161,398 in 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. The state does not apply for these funds due to the extraordinary restrictions upon how the money must be spent. Therefore, the state does not match funds nor does it have organizations supported by this type of federal money.
Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees
There are no CBAE or AFLA grantees in Montana.
Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007
Montana did not receive abstinence-only-until-marriage funding in Fiscal Year 2007.
Jo Ann Dotson
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
P.O. Box 4210
111 N. Sanders
Helena, MT 59620
Phone: (406) 444-4743