My Exploding Head, Part 2,648

I just came from our regular Monday morning meeting of the management team. My boss, the executive director of our agency, said that a couple of our staff members (both gay men of color) had presented her with a Request for Proposals and suggested that we write for a grant from these funds. My boss said that she didn’t know if this was a good fit for us, and asked our advice. This caught my attention, since she is one of the most decisive and action-oriented people I have ever known. So my curiosity was piqued.

But that curiosity would soon turn to horror.

Below are some choice excerpts from the Request for Proposals. I know it looks long and boring, and it is, but I strongly urge you to plough your way through. This is almost as good as the embryo-adoption grant RFP I posted a couple of weeks ago.

[Federal Register: May 20, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 97)]
[Notices]
[Page 29318-29328]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access
[wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr20my05-106]                         
----------------------------------------------
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Administration for Children and Families
Family and Youth Services Bureau Administration
on Children,Youth and Families
    Funding Opportunity Title: Community-Based Abstinence Education.
 Announcement Type: Initial.
 Funding Opportunity Number: HHS-2005-ACF-ACYF-AE-0099.
 CFDA Number: 93.010.
 Due Date for Applications: June 20, 2005.
    Executive Summary: The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) is
accepting applications to provide support to public and private
entities for the development and implementation of the Community-Based
Abstinence Education Program for adolescents, ages 12 through 18, in
communities across the country. This funding opportunity targets the
implementation of community-based abstinence educational programs
designed to: (a) Reduce the proportion of adolescents who engage in
premarital sexual activity, including but not limited to sexual
intercourse; (b) reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies
among adolescents; and (c) reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted
diseases among adolescents. Priority funding will be given to those
entities that demonstrate a strong record of providing abstinence
education among adolescents as defined by Section 510(b)(2) of Title V
of the Social Security Act, which promotes a strong abstinence until
marriage message to youth.
Priority Area 1
I. Funding Opportunity Description
    The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) is accepting
applications to provide support to public and private entities for the
development and implementation of the Community-Based Abstinence
Education Program for adolescents, ages 12 through 18, in communities
across the country. This funding opportunity targets the implementation
of community-based abstinence educational programs designed to: (a)
Reduce the proportion of adolescents who engage in premarital sexual
activity, including but not limited to sexual intercourse;
(b) reducethe incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies among adolescents;
and (c) reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among
adolescents. Priority funding will be given to those entities that
demonstrate a strong record of providing abstinence education among
adolescents as defined by Section 510(b)(2) of Title V of the Social
Security Act, which promotes a strong abstinence until marriage message
to youth.

A key component of promoting Positive Youth Development is
encouraging youth to make the healthiest choice regarding their sexual
behavior by abstaining from sexual activity, included but not limited
to sexual intercourse, before marriage. Since communicating abstinence
education to various target populations
requires a number of different approaches, activities may include
mentoring, counseling, and adult supervision to promote abstinence from
sexual activity. Programs funded through the Community-Based Abstinence
Education Program must promote abstinence education as defined by
Section 510(b)(2) of Title V of the Social Security Act (for a copy of
Sec. 510(b)(2), please see Appendix A). Programs that utilize this
definition promote ``abstinence Sex education programs that promote the
use of contraceptives are not eligible for funding under this
announcement.
    For purposes of this program, the term ``abstinence education''
means an educational or motivational program which--
 (A) has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social,
psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from
sexual activity;
 (B) teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the
expected standard for all school age children;
 (C) teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only
certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted
diseases, and other associated health problems;
 (D) teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the
context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;
 (E) teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage
is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;
 (F) teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have
harmful consequences for the child, the child's parents, and society;
 (G) teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how
alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances; and
 (H) teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before
engaging in sexual activity.
    Curricula developed or selected for implementation in the
Community-Based Abstinence Education grant program must be responsive
to the eight elements of the Section 510 abstinence education
definition and may not be inconsistent with any aspect of this
definition. Curriculum must emphasize the importance of abstaining from
sexual activity, included but not limited to sexual intercourse, before
marriage and that the healthiest life outcomes are obtained if an
individual abstains from sexual activity before marriage. In their
Curriculum Summary/Summaries, the applicant must demonstrate that the
selected curricula are consistent with each of the eight elements of
the Section 510 abstinence education definition. Applicants are
required to provide a Curriculum Summary for every curriculum that is
to be used in the proposed project. Please see Section IV.2 Content and
Form of Application Submission Section for a detailed description. ACF
encourages but does not require consultation and collaboration between
grantees and the State agencies throughout the life of the project.

My favorites part:

  (D) teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the
context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;
 (E) teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage
is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;

I'm sure next year's RFP will include

(F) and therefore encourages prompt and effective suicide on the part of gay and/or lesbian teens.

WHAT ASSHOLES. I don’t know what else to say about that.

And let me just state what I hope is already clear. I’m all for kids not having sex. If any – any – teen asked me if he or she should have sex, I’d say no. Sex is complicated and risky, and basically just really distracting. Go do your homework. But it’s pretty obvious that for this administration, “abstinence education” means a lot more than “don’t fuck”. It means pimping (heterosexual) marriage as the “expected standard of human sexual activity”. Which begs the question: expected by who? The federal government is certainly in no position to be setting the expected standard for all human sexual acitivity on our planet, nor would they claim to. No, who we’re really talking about here is God. The people who wrote this RFP know it, the wingnuts who want this bullshit know it, and you and I need to be fully aware of it too.

This is a part of a larger overall strategy to move money away from prevention programs that work to half-baked Sunday school missionary work like this. At the institutional level, that takes the form of money moving away from the CDC and other agencies to this Administration on Interfering In Your Private Life or whatever it’s called.

What scares me most of all is that our staff want to go for it. It’s hard to overestimate the pull large grant opportunities exert on non-profit CBOs. They love to imagine that they can find a way to make the funder happy while still doing what they want, to have their cake and eat it too. And sometimes they can, for a while. But over time, the goals of these programs shape the thinking and cultures of our organizations. How long would it take us to stop talking about condoms? Or start pushing the outright lie that they don’t work? Or, to approach the problem from another angle, how long would we get to push “marriage as the expected standard of human sexuality” before our long-term supporters in the GLBT community catch wind of that and take their money elsewhere? Bad money drives out good, and before long we’re all left sucking on the teat of Big Momma Government. And she just got religion.

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3 Responses to “My Exploding Head, Part 2,648”

  1. blue girl Says:

    Ok. Not funny. Just plain scary.

    “F) and therefore encourages prompt and effective suicide on the part of gay and/or lesbian teens.”

    Are you kidding about this? Is this true? This is something Shakespeare’s Sister should write about. People should know about this. (I would write about it, but I don’t have the traffic…yet)

    That just blows my mind.

    And 2nd question: What’s a CBO?

  2. res publica Says:

    OOOOOHHHHH no no no no, I’m sorry! “F” was my addition…when I first wrote this post, they were in different fonts to differentiate commentary from text….I mean, the rest of the proposal is bad enough, but no, there’s no suicide objective. Yet.

    CBO stands for Community Based Organization 🙂

  3. blue girl Says:

    Hi Will,

    Well Thank-The-Good-Lord-For-That, my dear.

    You just NEVER know these days, do you?

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