South Carolina State Profile
The Department of Health and Environmental Control and community-based organizations in South Carolina received $3,740,698 in federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007. 1
South Carolina Sexuality Education Law and Policy
Schools in South Carolina are required to teach sexuality education as well as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) education. Schools are not required to teach about HIV or AIDS. State law specifies that:
In grades 6 through 8 sexually transmitted diseases are to be included as a part of instruction. And, at least one time during the four years of grades 9–12, each student shall receive at least 750 minutes of reproductive health education and pregnancy prevention education.
According to the law:
Reproductive health education means instruction in human physiology, conception, prenatal care and development, childbirth, and postnatal care, but does not include instruction concerning sexual practices outside marriage or practices unrelated to reproduction except within the context of the risk of disease. Abstinence and the risks associated with sexual activity outside of marriage must be strongly emphasized.
The law explains, “Contraceptive information must be given in the context of future family planning,” which has been interpreted to mean that any information about contraception must be in the context of use during marriage. Additionally, no school may distribute contraceptives.
The law states that abstinence-until-marriage must be stressed; pregnancy prevention can be covered and must be taught in gender-divided classes; and adoption can be discussed, but abortion cannot. Finally, it explains:
The program of instruction provided for in this section may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships, except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases.
The state does not require or suggest a specific curriculum. However, each local school board must “appoint a thirteen member local advisory committee consisting of two parents, three clergy, two health professionals, two teachers, two students, one being the president of the student body of a high school, and two other persons not employed by the local school district.”
South Carolina also states that the Department of Education and local school boards must provide “staff development activities” for educators participating in the comprehensive health program.
Parents must be informed in advance of any sexuality specific instruction and are allowed to remove their children from any part of the health education classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
See South Carolina Comprehensive Health Education Act Code 59-32.
Birth Control Protection Act Introduced
House Bill 3739, also known as the Birth Control Protection Act, was introduced in March 2007. HB 3739 would enforce the right of consenting individuals to use safe and effective methods of contraceptive without governmental interference. The legislation verifies that individuals have the right to access and obtain contraceptives without governmental “discrimination or interference in the regulation of benefits, facilities or information.” The bill was sent to the House Committee on Medical, Military, Public, and Municipal Affairs on March 21, 2007.
Bill Aims to Amend Discrimination Laws
Senate Bill 438, introduced in February 2007, would amend the Code of Laws of the state pertaining to discrimination by prohibiting the discrimination of an individual in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Sexual orientation is defined as “an actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality.” Gender identity is defined as “a person’s self-perception, or perception of that person by another, of the person’s identity as a male or female based upon the person’s appearance, behavior or physical characteristics that are in accord with or opposed to the person’s physical anatomy, chromosomal sex, or sex at birth.” The bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Judiciary on February 14, 2007.
Cervical Cancer Prevention Act Introduced
House Bill 3136, also known as the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act, was introduced in December 2006. The bill would require, beginning in 2009–2010 school year, 11-year-old female students enrolling in the seventh grade to have received the cervical cancer vaccine series. Students may be exempt for religious reasons. The bill was tabled on the House floor on April 18, 2007.
SIECUS is not aware of any recent events regarding sexuality education in South Carolina.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) received $751,961 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. The South Carolina DHEC controls the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds and sub-grantees are required to make the match.
In 2007, two organizations received Title V funding: South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SC PIE) and Heritage Community Services. (See the CBAE and AFLA section for more information on Heritage Community Services.)
SC PIE provides abstinence-only-until-marriage programming to students, parents, and healthcare providers in public schools and faith communities. The organization uses Worth the Wait, a popular fear-based abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum.3 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.”4
Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees
There are four CBAE grantees in South Carolina: Clarendon School District Two, Heritage Community Services, Life Support, Inc., and South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SC PIE). There are two AFLA grantees in South Carolina: The Children’s Council and Medical University of South Carolina.
Heritage Community Services, is a Title V sub-grantee and receives a CBAE grant. Heritage Community Services offers extensive abstinence-only-until-marriage programs within South Carolina, but has also expanded throughout the United States, with affiliated Heritage organizations in Kentucky, Maine, and Rhode Island.5
Heritage Community Services was first formed in 1995 by Anne Badgley, who remains the President and CEO. Badgley formed the group as an adjunct to the Lowcountry Crisis Pregnancy Center which she founded in 1986 and continues to run. 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.
While the two groups have since become separate non-profits, they remain closely linked, sharing the same office as well as some staff members. In addition, Badgley has close ties with other crisis pregnancy centers and serves on the National CareNet Centers for Tomorrow Advisory Board. According to its website, CareNet’s mission is “to promote a culture of life through the delivery of valuable, life-affirming, evangelistic ministry to people facing unplanned pregnancies and related sexual issues.” 6
Over the years, Heritage Community Services has seen a great deal of favoritism from the government in South Carolina. In a highly irregular use of Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding, South Carolina awarded the entire amount of its federal and state funding to Heritage Community Services without first engaging in a competitive bidding process in the first years of the program. In 2004, Heritage Community Services was also the sole South Carolina recipient of Community Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) money.
The vast amounts of taxpayer funding and political favoritism lavished upon Heritage Community Services, both at the state and federal level, has enabled its program to break out beyond the state's borders. According to Heritage Community Services, its materials are now being utilized in schools in Augusta, GA; Lexington, KY; Florida; Maine; Massachusetts; North Carolina; Rhode Island; and the Caribbean.7 A fact sheet from the organization explains that there are additional communities interested in setting up programs in Arizona, California, Delaware, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Africa.8
The organization has created several curricula used for abstinence-only-until-marriage-programs including Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education and Heritage Keepers Life Skills Education. 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.”9
One article on the “Teen Pulse” section of Heritage Community Service’s website advises young people, “What many people don’t realize is that those who abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage are protecting themselves physically, financially, and emotionally by waiting until someone loves them enough to make a real commitment to them and to their future children.”10
Another CBAE grantee, South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SC PIE), has several “school district partners” including Dillon District 1 & 2, Florence 1, 2 & 4, Lexington/Richland 5, Marlboro County, Marion District 7, and Orangeburg 5. SC PIE is run by Sheri Few, who helped direct South Carolina’s Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programming for the first years of its existence. Ms. Few also co-authored the Healthy Image of Sex (HIS) abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum.
One part of the HIS teacher guide instructs, “Ask students to consider what happens when these powerful things are used in healthy and unhealthy ways. Plane—consider Twin Towers; Cars—consider when used by children under age or people on drugs; Guns—when used by people who are not trained or do not have authority, or for play by children; Fire—when played with or when not in a safe place. Like many things with potential great benefits, sex can be damaging as well. Marriage is the safe place, outside of marriage is dangerous.”11
SC PIE has a subcontract with fellow CBAE grantee Life Support, Inc., the organization explains the collaboration by saying, “A subcontract with Life Support Inc. provides concentrated efforts in the African American faith community of the targeted school districts. At least 42 churches in these communities are training their clergy, lay leaders, and parents to implement the Healthy Image of Sex curriculum, specifically designed for this target population.”12
Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007
Adolescent Health Contact13
South Carolina Organizations that Support Comprehensive Sexuality Education