Oregon State Profile
The Department of Human Services and community-based organizations in Oregon received $2,243,124 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007. 1
Oregon does not mandate sexuality education. However, Oregon does require instruction in infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school. Students in grades six through twelve must receive instruction in HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C at least annually. Oregon does not suggest or recommend a curriculum; however, Oregon statutes state that when sexuality education courses are taught, they must:
In 2002, the Oregon State Board of Education unanimously voted to revise the Oregon Administrative Rule focusing on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C. The rule is now more focused on educational efforts and states:
Parents or guardians may remove their children from sexuality education and/or STD/HIV education classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
See Oregon Statutes 336.35, 336.455, and 336.465 Oregon State Board of Education. Oregon Administrative Rules 581-022-1210 and 581-022-1440, Revised October 17th, 2002: Infectious Diseases Including Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Hepatitis B and C.
SIECUS is not aware of any proposed legislation regarding sexuality education in Oregon.
ACLU Prompts Investigation of Abstinence-Only Group in Eugene
The national ACLU and its Oregon affiliate called on state and federal regulators to investigate the Lane County Pregnancy Center after they learned that staff of the organization, which received both state and federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds, were asked to take a religious pledge.
The Lane County Pregnancy Center runs an abstinence-only-until-marriage program called “Stop and Think.” The ACLU obtained a copy of a contract for the “Stop and Think” program between Lane County Pregnancy Center and the Northern Hills Pregnancy Care Center in Spearfish, South Dakota. The contract listed a requirement that presenters and supervisors of its curriculum “possess an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.”2
The ACLU called the program a “misuse of public funds” and argued that the requirement that presenters have “the ability to communicate” the “Word of God” suggests classroom proselytizing.3 It asked that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Oregon Department of Human Services look into whether the organization had violated the separation of church and state.
The president of Lane Center’s Board of Directors told the press that he was unsure why the language was a part of the contract, claiming that it is not a requirement made of presenters in other places. He also clarified that the presenters are prohibited from speaking about God in classrooms, but admitted, “Because it’s value-based, kids get this perception that it is [about religion and God] without us mentioning any of those things.”4
Though pregnancy center was not found to be violating any laws, the state of Oregon did end its contract with the group in May 2007. And as a result of the pressure applied by the ACLU, the federal government now requires all staff members at the pregnancy center to sign a statement saying they understand promoting religion in federally funded programs is prohibited.5
School Board Approves More Comprehensive Programming
In the Portland suburb of North Clackamas, the school board voted 4–2 in favor of a new sexuality education program that includes information on how to put a condom on correctly in eighth grade and allows teachers to answer questions from students on a list of sensitive topics including homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and some sexual acts.6
The ninth and tenth grade health classes will also now feature an evidenced-based, HIV- and teen-pregnancy prevention curriculum called Reducing the Risk.
While two thirds of the board voted in favor of the updates, some members were extremely vocal in their opposition. “The curriculum normalized behavior that I believe is inappropriate, immoral, and abnormal, particularly for students in middle school,” argued one member, though he refused to specify the behaviors to which he was referring.7 He also wanted to require students to receive parental permission before the class instead of the current policy under which students are automatically enrolled unless their parents notify the school and ask for them to be removed. The board decided not to consider that suggestion.
The Oregon Department of Education applauded the district. The department has been encouraging districts to institute similar programs for years and expects more of them will follow in the footsteps of North Clackamas as their sexuality education curricula come up for review.8
Oregon’s Youth: Statistical Information of Note
Oregon did not participate in the 2007 Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey.
The Oregon Department of Human Services received $487,695 in federal Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding in Fiscal Year 2006. 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. Oregon provides $75,000 in state funds and the remainder of the match is provided by sub-grantees. This money is used by the Oregon Department of Human Services as part of its larger sexuality education program. There are two sub-grantees in Oregon: Northwest Family Services and the STARS (Students Today Aren’t Ready for Sex) Foundation.
The STARS Foundation receives Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding to contract with local partners and implement its curriculum in schools statewide.9 The program is available for middle and high school students. In Oregon, 65 percent of middle school students have participated in the program. In addition to the traditional curriculum, the STARS Foundation created Estrellas to specifically target Latino youth.
See the CBAE and AFLA section for more information on Northwest Family Services.
Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Evaluation
Oregon evaluated its Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the spring of 2000. The evaluation looked at seventh- and eighth-grade students using the STARS curriculum. Oregon’s review employed pre-and post-test surveys, but did not include a comparison group. The results suggested that, “the STARS program had no influence on behavioral intentions.”10 It concluded that there was “no evidence of a program effect on students’ intention to be sexually involved in the future.”11
A subsequent evaluation found similar results. The second evaluation, contracted by the Oregon Department of Human Services, found that “participation in the STARS program had the intended short-term impact on student knowledge and attitudes about sexual abstinence.”12 However, as in Oregon’s previous evaluation, the authors state, “no measurable change in behavioral improvement occurred as a result of exposure to the STARS curriculum for the treatment group.”13
Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees
There are two CBAE grantees in Oregon: Lane Pregnancy Support Center (formerly the Eugene Pregnancy Support Center) and Northwest Family Services. There are two AFLA grantees in Oregon: Multnomah County Health Department and Northwest Family Services.
Lane Pregnancy Support Center, formerly the Eugene Pregnancy Support Center, is a crisis pregnancy center (CPC). 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.
Lane Pregnancy Support Center’s abstinence-only-until-marriage program, “Stop and Think,” provides three age-specific presentations: “Decision” is geared towards middle school students, “Reality” is geared towards high school students, and “Listen” is for parents and teachers.14 These in-school presentations are flexible in length, and can take place over two to six class sessions.15
Northwest Family Services, which is a Title V sub-grantee and receives both a CBAE and an AFLA grant, “works with youth, couples, and families throughout Oregon and the United States to educate about and support healthy decisions.”16 Northwest Family Services reaches thousands of young people every year.
Northwest Family Services developed the FACTS: Family Accountability Communicating Teen Sexuality curricula series which is used across the country and includes FACTS and Reasons for middle school students and I’m in Charge of the Facts for high school students. SIECUS reviewed these curricula and found that they provide incomplete and inaccurate medical information; present opinions and beliefs as universal truths; and portray a biased view of gender, marriage, family structure, sexual orientation, and pregnancy options. For example, FACTS includes the following list of negative consequences of premarital sex: “Pregnancy, financial aspect of fatherhood, abortion, HIV/AIDS, STDs, guilt, rejection, loss of reputation, inability to bond in the future, challenge to not compare future sexual partners, alienation from friends and family, poverty, and the inability to complete school.” FACTS also tells young people in no uncertain terms that life begins when sperm and egg meet: “At conception, the baby came into being. Even though he or she was only the size and appearance of a pencil dot, the baby was a separate, genetically unique individual.”17
Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007