Curriculum A Washington Roundup

HHS Sex-Information Web Site Draws Fire

By Vaishali Honawar — April 12, 2005 1 min read
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A new federal Web site aimed at helping parents educate their teenagers about sexual issues is under fire from advocacy groups that say it ignores sexually active teenagers, victims of sexual abuse, and gay and lesbian youths.

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a New York City-based group that disseminates materials on sex education, has written to Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, saying that the Web site, www.4parents.gov, contains biased and inaccurate information. It asks that the site be taken down and a formal review of its content launched.

“The Web site dictates values to parents rather than helping them to incorporate their own beliefs into discussions regarding sex and sexuality,” says a letter to Mr. Leavitt signed by 147 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign.

The letter says that while the Web site promotes sexual abstinence, it fails to provide suggestions for those whose teenagers remain sexually active, “implying that these youth are not worth it.”

Bill Pierce, a spokesman for Health and Human Services Department, said the Web site was intended as a tool for parents who want to discuss abstinence with their children. “The information [these groups] want is widely available on the Web. We didn’t say this is for everyone and everybody—if you don’t like the Web site, you don’t have to visit it,” he said.

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