Nebraska State Profile
The Department of Health and Human Services and community-based organizations in Nebraska received $956,938 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007. 1
Nebraska Sexuality Education Law and Policy
Nebraska law does not require sexuality education; indeed, it explicitly states that this is a matter of local control. Nebraska does not limit or prescribe what can be taught in such classes nor does it recommend a specific curriculum. However, in its Nebraska Health Education Frameworks, the Nebraska State Board of Education does support “an abstinence approach to risk behaviors associated with…sexual activity.” The State Board of Education also adopted specific abstinence guidelines to be used in any school unit involving family life or sexuality education. The guidelines include teaching that “abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage is the expected standard for all school-age children,” and “a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity.” The guidelines also note that the best way to develop family life or sexuality education units is for parents, school boards, and teachers to work together with schools, districts, and communities “so all have a voice in the process and content.”
Nebraska 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 the Nebraska Revised Statutes Chapter 79, and Nebraska Health Education Frameworks.
Legislation to Amend Discrimination Laws
Bill 475, introduced in January 2007, would amend the discrimination laws in the state to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status. The Bill was indefinitely postponed on May 22, 2007.
SIECUS is not aware of any recent events regarding sexuality education in Nebraska.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services received $218,740 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 Nebraska, the match is provided by the sub-grantees.
The Department of Health and Human Services runs the Nebraska Abstinence Education program which uses some of the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds for a media campaign that is primarily implemented at the state high school basketball tournament each year.
The NAE also distributes Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds to nine-sub-grantees: Alliance Area YMCA, Answers and Alternatives Crisis Pregnancy Center, Antelope Memorial Hospital, Four Corners Health Department, Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc., North Central District Health Department, St. Elizabeth Foundation, and Youth For Christ, Columbus.
These sub-grantees use a variety of curricula; however, the most popular abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Nebraska are WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?)Training and Choosing the Best LIFE.
Both of these curricula have been reviewed by SIECUS. In our review of WAIT Training, SIECUS found that it contained 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.”5
SIECUS reviewed Choosing the Best LIFE and found that it names numerous physical and psychological consequences of premarital sexual activity, suggests that sexually active teens will never have happy futures, and implies that only teens with low self-esteem and poor judgment become sexually active. For example, Choosing the Best LIFE states, “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.”6
Two of the Title V sub-grantees are crisis pregnancy centers: Answers and Alternatives Crisis Pregnancy Center and Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center. 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.
The Lincoln Crisis Pregnancy Center devotes a majority of its website to denouncing abortion.7 The organization offers the following as advice to women:
You do have the choice not to have an abortion and we can help. We want to help you avoid being hurt physically and emotionally by offering solutions. You don’t need to make this decision right away. Slow down and allow time to think. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to have an abortion. We exist to help you explore your options. There are risks to most abortion procedures. Because of these dangers we do not recommend or refer for abortion.8
In fact, induced abortion early in pregnancy carries very low risk of complications. Less than 1% of women experience a major complication and there is no evidence of childbearing problems among women who have had aspiration abortions (the most common procedure) within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.9 In addition, “the risk of death associated with childbirth is about 11 times as high as that associated with abortion.”10
The sub-grantee Youth For Christ, Columbus is part of a larger national organization whose mission reads, “YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other likeminded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the world of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement.”11 This organization uses WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?)Training in its abstinence-only-until-marriage program.12
Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Evaluation
Nebraska completed an evaluation of its Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program in 2002. This review involved pre- and post-test surveys administered to two groups, one of which participated in the abstinence-only programs and the other received only the regular health and sexuality curricula. The results revealed, “abstinence-only education did not significantly change young adolescents’ values and attitudes about premarital sexual activity, nor did it significantly change their intentions whether or not to engage in premarital sexual activity.”13 In addition, the authors of the evaluation found that favorable attitudes toward abstinence expressed by youth could not be attributed to the programs.14
Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees
There are two CBAE grantees in Nebraska: City of Norfolk/Community Character Development Coalition and Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home. There are no ALFA grantees in Nebraska.
The Community Character Development Coalition has a variety of abstinence-only-until-marriage media clips available on its website. One clip, “It’s your choice!,” features young people who state, “Prom. It’s a big night. It could either be a night to remember. Or a memory to regret. Would you jump off a cliff if everyone else did?”15
The website also suggests a number of abstinence-only-until-marriage videos and speakers. Pam Stenzel, Keith Deltano, and Mike Long, national abstinence-only-until-marriage speakers, are all listed as resources.16
SIECUS reviewed Pam Stenzel’s video “Sex Still Has a Price Tag,” in which Stenzel delivers two 40-plus-minute monologues to a studio audience of high school students. She uses a preacher’s cadence and often yells at her audience in attempts to emphasize her points. Stenzel focuses on unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other negative outcomes of sex such as emotional pain and the inability to bond.Her presentation relies on fear, promotes shame, and mandates decisions for young people.For example, Stenzel tells her audience, “If you forget everything else I told you today, and you can only remember one thing, this is what I want you to hear. If you have sex outside of one permanent monogamous—and monogamy does not mean one at a time—that means one partner who has only been with you—if you have sex outside of that context, you will pay.”17
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.)”18
Keith Deltano is an abstinence-only-until-marriage speaker and Christian comedian who has given talks around the country in middle schools and high schools.SIECUS attended one of Mr. Deltano’s most popular presentation, “The New Sexual Revolution or Abstinence is Cool,” and found that he uses a loud, aggressive style, reminiscent of a football coach to badger students into accepting his abstinence-only-until-marriage ideology.Deltano relies on messages of fear and shame, inaccurate and misleading information, and biased views of marriage and gender.The highlight of Deltano’s performance includes an activity designed to illustrate the ineffectiveness of condoms against HIV in which he suggests that condoms fail 10% of the time and then he dangles a cinderblock over the genitals of an unsuspecting male student yelling, “Is 10 percent good enough for you?!?!Is it good enough?!?!”19
Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007