Advocacy groups complain about 4parents.gov sex-ed website

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Tuesday, April 5, 2005 The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) has written a March 31 letter to Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The letter presents a number of complaints about the new HHS website for parents, called 4parents.gov.

An additional 145 advocacy groups have signed on to the letter, including notable liberal groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Among the concerns expressed in the letter about the website:

  • It contains factual errors and outdated terminology.
  • It is politically biased, and only credits one non-governmental organization, the National Physicians Center for Family Resources (NPC), which the letter claims has "strong ties to right wing religious organizations like the California Family Council, Alabama Family Alliance, and Focus on the Family."
  • It introduces anti-abortion language, such as referring to the developing fetus as an "unborn child" and defining that pregnancy begins at fertilization, rather than at implantation, the definition previously accepted by the HHS.
  • It also "does not address the needs of many youth, including sexually active youth, youth who have been or are being sexually abused, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth."

SIECUS further requested that the site be "immediately taken down and that a formal review of its content and techniques for communication and behavioral learning be launched," in which SIECUS and its related associations would be assisting.

According to the 4parents.gov website, " 4Parents.gov is part of a new national public education campaign to provide parents with the information, tools and skills they need to help their teens make the healthiest choices." Whether this implies that other websites or educational materials will be released in the near future was not made clear.

The site appeared to particularly focus on parent-child communication and the delivery of sex-ed information to parents in order to support that cause. The stated goal of this campaign is improvement of public health through the reduction of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other health-related issues that affect teens.

Sources