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An Abstinence-Only Advocate was Just Appointed to the Dept. of Health

Critics say that appointee Valerie Huber has "pushed a religiously-motivated agenda to promote false and misleading information about sexual health."
Photo via the National Abstinence Education Association

Valerie Huber is the President and CEO of an organization that promotes the abstinence-only-until-marriage movement—and she's also just been appointed as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary for Health for the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

When young people don't have access to sexual and reproductive health education—when they're told that abstinence is the only way to avoid STI's and pregnancy—they aren't provided with the information or tools to protect themselves.

One study compared states with abstinence-only programs to those with comprehensive sex education, and found that "abstinence education in the U.S. does not cause abstinence behavior. To the contrary, teens in states that prescribe more abstinence education are actually more likely to become pregnant." Conversely, "states that taught comprehensive sex and/or HIV education and covered abstinence along with contraception and condom use… tended to have the lowest teen pregnancy rates." Furthermore, the Sexuality Information and Education Council for the United States (SIECUS) reports that abstinence-only education is also ineffective in the prevention of STI transmission.

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Huber's appointment is being harshly criticized. SIECUS issued a press release stating that they are "angry and appalled, though no longer surprised, at the appointment of the leader of the abstinence-only-until-marriage movement, Valerie Huber." President and CEO Chitra Panjabi directly blamed the Trump administration for its "complete disregard and disdain for science and human rights," claiming that Huber has "pushed a religiously-motivated agenda to promote false and misleading information about sexual health," in her work.

"The people served by the programs within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary deserve more than a science-denialist who has built a career on perpetuating fear, shame, and stigma of sexuality for our nation's young people," SIECUS states.