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Shaheen pushes to restore sex ed funding for cut by Executive Council

CLAREMONT, N.HG. (WCAX) - New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen is working to restore funding for sex education in the Granite State that was cut by the state’s Republican-controlled Executive Council.

The funding was cut for a program designed to reduce teen pregnancy that advocates argue is a proven success. “We call it SHINE -- Sexual Health Network and Education Program,” said Stephanie Slayton with the TLC Family Resource Center.

The Claremont program for the last decade has worked with area middle and high schools to teach students about sex-both abstinence and contraception. The program, which is modeled after the national curriculum, targets at-risk youth. “They might have some truancy issues with the school district, there might be substance use in the home, some youth here might be experiencing homelessness,” Slayton said.

Sullivan County - along with the Manchester area -- has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the state, but the $700,000 in federal funding to combat the problem was rejected by the state’s GOP-controlled Executive Council. Parental rights were a major issue and whether parents had enough say in what their kids were being taught.

Cinde Warmington is the lone Democrat on the council and voted to approve the funding. “It’s just incredibly frustrating that the council -- based on really misinformation and ideology -- voted to de-fund this really important program,” she said.

Slayton says parental consent is required for any child to participate in the sex education program, which has now been scaled way back due to lack of funding. “We also offer parent information sessions. So, before each class, parents are invited to come and meet with our team, review the curriculum, ask questions,” she said.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen Tuesday visited the center to highlight efforts to restore the funding, including a federal grant that would be awarded directly to the centers, bypassing the council. Shaheen says the data speaks for itself. “We’ve seen in both the Manchester area and in Sullivan County, teen pregnancy rates over the 10 years of this program have declined almost 50%, sexually transmitted diseases has declined dramatically,” Shaheen said.

Representatives from Shaheen’s offices say they should find out if the new funding stream will be available in the next couple of months.