145 Public Health and Advocacy Organizations Seek Removal of 4Parents.gov, a new HHS Website

March 31, 2005

Today, 145 organizations sent a letter the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, to express concern with the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) recently launched website www.4parents.gov . They asked that the website be immediately taken down and that a formal review be launched of its content and techniques for communication and behavioral learning. These 145 organizations uniformly feel that the website presents biased and inaccurate information as fact and does not address the needs of many youth, including sexually active youth, youth who have been or are being sexually abused, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

The organizations also expressed their dismay that the National Physicians Center for Family Resources (NPC), an organization that represents views that are far outside the values of mainstream Americans and the public health community, is the only organization credited in assisting DHHS with the website. NPC has ties to right-wing organizations like the California Family Council, Alabama Family Alliance, and Focus on the Family, and boasts of alliances with fringe medical associations and doctors such as the Alabama Physician Resource Council, the Physicians Consortium, and Dr. Laura Schlesinger. The organizations are also seeking information from the Secretary on how NPC was chosen and if it received taxpayer dollars for its assistance.

?All of us agree that parents should be the primary sexuality educators of their children. Therefore it is critical that parents have the information, resources, and skills to tackle this complex issue,? said Monica Rodriguez, vice president for education and training of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS). ?Unfortunately, 4parents.gov is not about educating parents, it is about scaring them. This website relies on fear to motivate and contains misinformation and biases that undermine its intent of encouraging parent-child communication around sex and sexuality,? Rodriguez continued.

Some of the troubling issues surrounding 4Parents.gov are as follows:

Contains inaccurate information regarding the effectiveness of condoms, as well as the transmission and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Uses fear-based messages to motivate behavior.
Dictates values to parents rather than helping them to incorporate their own values into discussions regarding sex and sexuality.
Lacks information for parents of sexually abused and assaulted youth.
Fails to address the unique needs of parents with LGBTQ children.
Promotes biases against abortion rights.
Speaking to the politics behind the website, Bill Smith, SIECUS' vice president for public policy commented, ?the Department of Health and Human Services is the nation's premiere health care provider and should act like one.? Smith continued, ?the Department should not be spewing the ideology of a small minority of right-wing Americans, but should be providing our nations' parents with medically accurate and inclusive information that will promote the health and well being of all of our families.?