Message from the President.
For some, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) is a savior. For others, we are the spark that ignites even the most benign sexuality-related issue into a firestorm.
Recently, we held a briefing with the National Education Association on Capitol Hill to draw attention to how censorship and messages of fear and shame in federally-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs put youth at risk. While successful in reaching key audiences, including 35 influential Congressional offices, our briefing has continued to have reverberations over the past few months.
SIECUS was the topic of disparaging articles and the target of action alerts by The American Life League, Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, The National Abstinence Clearinghouse, and others. We have received calls and letters from outraged individuals from coast to coast who have told us that we are corrupting young people, our views promote sin, and our beliefs are in direct conflict with God's will.
These attacks on SIECUS are nothing new. However, they did give me renewed insight into the battles that parents, advocates, educators, and young people face every day from opponents of sexuality education.
That is why in this issue of SIECUS Developments, we want to provide a lens into states and communities. This includes the challenges that advocates, educators, and programs face in their cities and towns, as well as those faced by parents and young people each day in their local schools and classrooms.
After monitoring and responding to sexuality education controversies in states and communities for 10 years, we have identified a number of deeply disturbing trends. We've seen new types of controversies emerge, old issues that won't go away, and new ways that opponents of sexuality education are influencing young people (on such issues as choice and family planning) through local programs and funding.
I am also particularly proud to announce the election of SIECUS' new Board Chair, Dr. Richard Friend. All of us at SIECUS are energized by his leadership and look forward to working with Richard to advance our mission.
I wish you all the best in 2004 and hope you will continue to support the critical work of SIECUS.