November 14, 2007 The Honorable Timothy M. Kaine Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor Richmond, VA 23219
Dear Governor Kaine:
I am writing to advise you of my strong opposition to your proposal to eliminate $275,000 in funding in the upcoming biennial budget for five statewide non-profit programs that teach abstinence education and to encourage you to continue funding for these programs.
As you know, there are a number of programs in place across Virginia that teach other means of avoiding unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. However, the only sure way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence outside of a monogamous marital relationship, and it is important that we clearly communicate this fact to parents and their children.
Contrary to the assertions of your staff, abstinence only education programs have been proven to work in Virginia and throughout the nation. According to the Virginia Department of Health, from 1995 to 2005, the period during which abstinence education has received significant funding and expansion, Virginia saw an 18.5% decrease in teen pregnancies, while nationwide teen sexual activity fell from 54.1% to 46.8%.
In addition, I would call your attention to the enclosed News Release from the Virginia Department of Health in February of 2006, which concluded that teens in Virginia and throughout the nation are receptive to messages about abstaining from sex.
According to Gayle Grant, Director of the VDH Virginia Abstinence Education Initiative, “We are encouraged by the trend in support for abstinence among teens and hope that this change in attitude if reflected in behavioral changes.”
Ms. Grant added, “Delaying sexual activity by as few as 18 months greatly reduces a teen’s risk of contracting sexually transmitted disease or having an unintended pregnancy.” Any program that helps accomplish these important goals is worthy of our support.
Abstinence only education programs are an appropriate alternative to other programs that should be available to parents, children, school systems and other organizations. The $275,000 in funding that you propose to eliminate in the upcoming biennial budget helps make these programs available, at least on a limited basis, and there is no sound rationale for eliminating this funding.
Again, I encourage you to further review the efficacy of abstinence based education programs before eliminating state funding for these programs. I would be glad to meet with you at any time to discuss this issue and include representatives of various faith based organizations who support abstinence education in these discussions.
Thank you for considering my views on this very important issue.
Very Truly Yours,WILLIAM T. BOLLING Lieutenant Governor Commonwealth of Virginia
Also included in the letter was a February 2006 press release from the Virginia Department of Health highlighting support for abstinence among teenagers both in Virginia and across the country. Here is the link.