In an emerging revolt against abstinence-only sex education, states are turning down millions of dollars in federal grants, unwilling to accept White House dictates that the money be used for classes focused almost exclusively on teaching chastity.
In Ohio, Gov. Ted Strickland said that regardless of the state's sluggish economic picture, he simply did not see the point in taking part in the controversial State Abstinence Education Grant program any more.
Five other states - Wisconsin, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana and New Jersey - either already have or plan to drop out of the program, which is managed by a unit of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, by the end of the year.
Strickland, like most of the other governors who are pulling the plug on the funding, said in pulling out of the program last month that the program has too many restrictions and rules to be practical. Among other things, the money cannot be used to promote condom or contraceptive use and requires teachers to emphasize ideas such as bearing children outside of wedlock is harmful to society and "likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."
And, according to the governor's spokesman, Keith Dailey, Strickland sees little evidence that the program has been effective. "We've spent millions of dollars on such education since Ohio first started getting grant money in 1998," Dailey said. "If the state is going to spend money on teaching and protecting kids, the governor believes it's better to spend it in a smarter, more comprehensive approach."
White House support for the so-called Title V grant remains strong.
President Bush has asked Congress to carve out $191 million for the program in fiscal 2008, an increase of $28 million over current funding.