Rider to E.D. Spending Bill Would Place Restrictions on AIDS Education
Washington--The Centers for Disease Control would be barred, under an amendment attached last week to a Senate appropriations bill, from funding any AIDS-education programs that "directly or indirectly" promote homosexual activities or fail to emphasize the value of abstaining from nonmarital sex and illegal drug use.
The fiscal 1988 spending bill for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Departments passed by a vote of 80 to 15, without significant changes to its education-funding provisions. (See Education Week, Oct. 7, 1987.)
The amendment relating to acquired immune deficiency syndrome was offered by Senator Jesse A. Helms, Republican of North Carolina, who unleashed a lengthy diatribe about comic books and educational workshops created by the Gay Men's Health Crisis, a New York4City advocacy and social-service group.
Senator Helms said the booklets "promote sodomy and the homosexual lifestyle" by telling "in graphic detail, of the sexual encounter of two homosexual men." And while he conceded that the booklets were not produced with federal funds, Senator Helms described a c.d.c.-funded education program that included what he called "dating and intimacy workshops" and "gender-role exercises," as well as "safe sex" techniques.
"The subject matter is so obscene, so revolting, that I am embarrassed to try to discuss it in sufficient detail for senators to understand that we have a problem here," Senator Helms said.
Senators Lowell P. Weicker, Republican of Connecticut, and Lawton M. Chiles, Jr., Democrat of Florida, strongly opposed the a8mendment as originally worded, arguing that it would prevent educational materials from promoting the use of condoms and encouraging intravenous drug users to sterilize needles.
Senator Helms was persuaded to tone down the language, which would have barred programs that "promote, encourage, or condone sexual activities outside of a sexually monogamous marriage ... or the use of illegal intravenous drugs." The altered amendment then passed by a vote of 94 to 2, with Mr. Weicker and Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, Democrat of New York, voting nay.
House and Senate appropriations bills would provide more than $300 million for c.d.c.'s aids programs, including significant boosts for its public-education efforts and at least $10 million for school programs.
An amendment that would have cut all discretionary programs in the Senate bill by 1.94 percent to boost funding for the low-income energy-assistance program failed last week.
Another approved amendment would transfer $500,000 from the Education Department's $5.8-million income-contingent-loan pilot program to fund a study of volunteers in the precollegiate classroom. The study was mandated by last year's Higher Education Amendments, but the department has "refused" to fund it, said Senator Daniel J. Evans, Republican of Washington, the amendment's sponsor.
Fiscal 1988 education appropriations next go to a House-Senate conference committee.--jm