Girls' brains are like spaghetti, boys' brains are like waffles...boys tuck schoolbooks under their arms at the waist, girls cradle theirs like a baby...boys were made to pursue girls and girls were made to wait to be pursued by boys...we have an entire generation of girls looking for daddy love...you just have to get that viable sperm close to her vagina and she turns on the little Hoover vacuum, because girls are very, very fertile...
— from a video of a 2009 WAIT Training assembly at Loveland High School
In 2007, Governor Bill Ritter took a big step toward ensuring that Colorado kids would get comprehensive sex education by signing HB 1292 into law. The measure requires that, in addition to addressing the benefits of abstinence in eliminating STDs and teen pregnancy, in-school sex-education programs must also supply evidence-based, medically accurate information on the use of condoms and other contraceptives.
Study after study has revealed the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only programs in reducing the number of teen pregnancies and reducing the spread of disease. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, virginity pledges, a staple of abstinence-only programming, not only did not decrease occurrences of teen STDs, but actually resulted in pledge-takers not seeking medical attention once infected, leading to an increased possibility of transmission.
Abstinence-only programs come under fire for questionable instructional methods and curricula as well. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) periodically releases in-depth reviews of abstinence-only programs and regularly finds that they often rely on messages of fear and shame to encourage abstinence and promote biased views of gender, marriage and pregnancy options.
Yet Americans have spent more than $1.5 billion on abstinence-only programs over the past fifteen years through Title V of the Social Security Act and other federal legislation. The programs really flourished under President George W. Bush, who created an injection of funding with his Community Based Abstinence Education grants. President Barack Obama did away with this funding stream, but during the fight in Congress over health-care reform, Republicans put $250 million for abstinence-only programs into the Affordable Healthcare Act.
The funds — now being distributed throughout the country — were made available on a non-competitive, state-by-state basis through Title V. All a governor had to do was say that he or she wanted abstinence funding, and a scaled dollar amount was provided to the state. Ritter declined the reported $3.2 million in abstinence-only funding available to Colorado, electing instead to seek funding for comprehensive sex education through the federal Personal Responsibility Education Program. Colorado was awarded approximately $793,000 in PREP funds each year from 2010 through 2014.
But a member of the State Board of Education, operating without board approval, decided to make an end run around the governor and bring the Title V funding to Colorado anyway.
That money is now paying for abstinence programs to go to public school auditoriums, training conferences, churches and community centers throughout Colorado, spreading the message that abstinence-only-until-marriage is the only way to have disease-free, worthwhile sex.
On August 25, 2010, Peggy Littleton, then one of the seven members of the Colorado Board of Education, sent an e-mail to then-Commissioner of Education Dwight Jones, stating, in part:
"Give me a call to discuss so that we may move forward as quickly as possible to capture funding.... I will be happy to stop by before another meeting I have in Denver, or have Mrs. Mackenzie stop by CDE today, to pick up the letter..."
The letter was one that Littleton believed the Colorado Department of Education could provide, enabling the board to go for Title V funding even if Ritter had decided against it. Via return e-mail, Jones's office advised Littleton that it couldn't act counter to the governor's wishes and that the CDE could not produce the letter she wanted.
The Mrs. Mackenzie to whom Littleton refererred is Joneen Mackenzie, a nurse who is founder and president of Denver-based WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training. This abstinence-only organization has used over $8.3 million in federal funding since 2005 to implement its training throughout the United States and around the world — and Littleton has worked closely with the group.
Originally from Nebraska, Littleton moved to Colorado with her family when she was just four years old. She graduated from Colorado State University, married, home-schooled her three children, and held faculty positions at Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy and Colorado Springs Christian School. Governor Bill Owens appointed her to be director of Colorado GEAR UP, a program designed to ready low-income students for college. In 2004, she ran for the Colorado Board of Education in the conservative fifth congressional district, which includes Colorado Springs.
Littleton is known for her proud conservatism. During the 2004 election cycle, she and state representative Amy Stephens ran for delegate slots as "Blond Babes for Bush," a distinction that earned Littleton an interview with Fox News pundit Sean Hannity. In 2008, she was appointed to the "Palin Truth Squad," part of the McCain campaign's efforts to fight Palin "smears."
Earlier this year, Littleton did a video interview with Think Progress, a blog of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, in which she faithfully supported the right-wing conspiracy theory that Obama is secretly fueling Islam in America. Littleton told the interviewer that the only reason Obama shows support for charter schools is his desire to allow the "sneaking creep" of Muslim schools across the nation — schools where Littleton claimed children are taught to hate America, among other things. By then, she was off the Colorado school board and was an El Paso County commissioner, a post she won last November.
But Littleton wasn't done with education issues.
In response to a November 21 Denver Post piece on eight Front Range teachers charged with sexual misconduct in six months, she circulated an op-ed titled "Sex Misconduct Haunts Schools, But Why?" In it, she wrote: "Why are we surprised that sexual misconduct haunts schools? Are there clear cultural pro social norms in place to prevent this from happening? I think not. Try to find someone who is willing to expect more from individuals and adolescents when it comes to self regulating around drugs, alcohol, tobacco, violence and particularly sex. If you should find that rare individual, they are probably battle weary from being labeled as fear and shame based, ideologically driven, harmful, old fashioned, unrealistic, religious and uninformed."
Littleton went on to explain that there was more information on sex available than ever before, and therefore people were more confused than ever before. She called the 1960s the beginning of the end of a sexually responsible society, moving through Kinsey on to the development of SIECUS, Hugh Hefner's Playboy and the founding of Planned Parenthood as proof.
Littleton closed with this: "I encouraged the Colorado State Board of Education to request that the Colorado Department of Education apply for the Title V grant. I am happy to say this will happen by December 10, 2010. We can legislate and revoke or suspend teacher licenses all we want as a penalty for after the fact sexual misconduct by educators, but until we empower students to recognize inappropriate sexual advances, learn about risk avoidance and convey the message that sex with anyone, anywhere, anytime is not healthy we will not see any decrease in this type of criminal behavior."
Here's how Littleton "encouraged" that application for the Title V grant: After Jones told her that the CDE would not be sending a letter, Littleton sent the commissioner a note encouraging him not to be "beholden to a governor who is gone by the end of the year when this [Title V] will have an impact for years to come."
Littleton didn't end her quest for Title V funding there. A Department of Health and Human Services program specialist told Mackenzie that an authorized representative could issue a letter that would allow the education department to apply for the funds on behalf of the state. As she noted in an e-mail to Littleton (on which Bob Schaffer, the former congressman who was then chair of the Board of Education, was copied), "All we need is an opinion letter from the AG that the CDE has authority to apply for these funds." So Littleton contacted the attorney general's office, looking for that legal loophole.
That move inspired this September 1 e-mail from Jones to Elaine Berman, the Colorado Board of Education commissioner representing Denver. "Peggy has not given up on Title V and plans to challenge the Governor's decision. She has asked the AG's office for an informal opinion...I think Bob [Schaffer] is going to have to stop this or the board is going to have to make a choice on how they want to proceed. Having one member do their own thing is the beginning of the end of getting the state's work done for students. I'm becoming very concerned about Peggy's behavior and think the board may need to decide how they want to handle their colleague. She has a right to do what she thinks is best, but not working with her colleagues is an interesting way to do it."
In her reply to Jones, Berman said: "An individual board member should not be able to request an opinion from the AG's office. You should talk to the chair about this precedent."
"Governor Ritter made very clear his decision to not apply for this funding," Berman recalls. Given this country's fiscal woes, she says, "every program that is being funded by the government needs to be scrutinized. And funded programs should not be ideologically motivated, which I believe this [Title V] was."
"This is not unusual," Littleton says of her appeal to the AG's office last year. "State Board of Education members frequently interact with CDE staff on many topics and provide direction and conduct inquiry to be well informed before items come to a vote of the board. It is the prerogative of state board members to have access to and advice from the AG's office to clarify statute."
On September 16, 2010, the Colorado Board of Education voted to seek Title V funding — circumventing the governor. This move was made possible by a letter that soon came from the Colorado Attorney General's Office.
A federal provision allows for a state's attorney general to rule on who can and cannot apply directly on the state's behalf for federal funds. According to the Colorado Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contacted the office, asking for an opinion letter stating that the board could independently seek funding.
On September 22, 2010, Senior Assistant Attorney General Tony Dyl wrote a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, citing Colorado law that allowed his agency to seek Title V funding for the Colorado Department of Education without permission of the governor.
Colorado was awarded the funds.
A substantial portion of Colorado's Title V funds went to Joneen Mackenzie's organization.
Mackenzie's career in the abstinence-only-until-marriage field stretches back almost twenty years, to the day in 1993 when she discovered that one of her seventh-grade son's textbooks included instruction on condom use.
Kids didn't want to deal with the pressures of sexual decision-making, protested Mackenzie (then Joneen Krauth). What adolescents desired was information about loving relationships, and to be given permission to not have sex — and that's just what she gave them with WAIT, the organization she started that began providing seminars on relationships, not condoms, at her son's middle school. In 1995, Mackenzie trademarked the words "WAIT Training" — a phrase coined by volunteers at Mountain Area Alternatives crisis pregnancy center in Evergreen.
Since those early days, Mackenzie has served on numerous state and federal abstinence and health boards, acted as a federal grant reviewer, and co-authored the WAIT Training curriculum that is available in 42 states and eight countries.
"Pro-Abstinence Groups Show Ten-Fold Growth," a 1997 article in the Baptist Standard, noted the promise of Congress increasing funding for pro-abstinence-only groups. That move "legitimized" the growing movement, said Amy Stephens, who didn't represent Colorado House District 20 then, but instead was speaking in her capacity as public policy representative for Focus on the Family, the influential conservative Christian organization based in the Springs.
Stephens lauded WAIT Training as a group whose success underscored "key gains" by the pro-abstinence movement, and went on to call Planned Parenthood and SIECUS pre-marital sex advocates. Noting that those groups were "wailing and shrieking" about the increase in federal funding to abstinence groups while taking federal money themselves and teaching kids that "you can be straight today and gay tomorrow," Stephens made it clear that "more kids than ever are questioning their sexuality because of the tremendous confusion thrown at them" by comprehensive sex education.
According to the website of the Center for Relationship Education (CRE/WAIT), the organization's current incarnation, WAIT Training has "served" Denver, Loveland, Littleton, Colorado Springs, Cortez, Durango and many other Colorado communities.
During high-energy assemblies, WAIT-trained instructors hook teens with an emphatic assurance that WAIT wants them to have the best sex of their lives. "I want you to have fireworks sex!" a trainer may shout, and then add the caveat: just not now and not until you are married.
Shelly Donahue is one of a handful of CRE/WAIT-certified train-the-trainers trainers. During two-day sessions, these super-trainers teach potential trainers — educators, nurses, clergy, etc. — how to implement the WAIT Training curriculum. WAIT's application for the Title V funding lists both Donahue and Mackenzie as potential recipients of federal funds for trainer and speaker fees.
At a WAIT Training assembly held in 2009 at Loveland High School, Donahue asked for a male volunteer to join her at the front of the auditorium. She asked the boy to expose his forearm, then ripped a long piece of clear packing tape off a roll and held it up to the audience. The tape was the boy's girlfriend, she said: clear, clean and transparent with her feelings.
Donahue applied the tape to the boy's arm and rubbed it briskly to ensure that it bonded, talking about how the tape would probably not become the boy's wife and that meant they would break up some day. She then ripped the tape from the boy's arm, holding it up again for the kids to see. The once-clear tape was now tainted — like the girl — and covered with bits of the boy's dried skin and hair, his DNA. Donahue repeated the process over and over again. Each time the tape — the girl — pulled up more debris and lost more of its ability to make a tight bond.
During train-the-trainer seminars, attendees are encouraged to add their own spin to the tape activity, to amplify the message by maybe saying something like Ew, she's dirty! or He's dirty! Trainers are also encouraged to engage kids, get them excited and let them have fun.
According to sexual-education advocates who attended WAIT's two-day train-the-trainer classes, there aren't any breakout sessions or even much discussion about the medical information contained in the WAIT curriculum. Instead, the training focuses on how to present the WAIT Training PowerPoint and several activities outlined in the WAIT Training manual, including activities that these critics say are "shaming" kids.
Mackenzie says her curriculum meets all standards of medical accuracy, and brushes off criticism of WAIT as being fear- and shame-based. Those claims are old and tired, she says.
But Monica Rodriguez, president of SIECUS, was shocked when she watched the video of Donahue at Loveland High School. "It's one thing to read the WAIT Training curriculum and imagine how the lessons might play out in the classroom," she says. "It's quite a different experience to watch a WAIT Training facilitator bombard an audience of high-school students with messages that are sexist, hurtful to young people who are sexually active, and of no relevance whatsoever to the gay and lesbian students sitting in the audience. These messages reinforce the worst gender stereotypes and do little to help young people navigate the complex landscape of present-day romantic and sexual relationships."
Abstinence-only programs have long been the subject of significant study and scrutiny, and WAIT Training has faced several direct challenges. In 2004, California representative Henry Waxman released a report that cited multiple medical inaccuracies in abstinence-only curricula. The report singled out WAIT for erroneously teaching that the HIV virus could be transferred through tears. But Mackenzie has denied that her group ever said that. Any language WAIT used about HIV transmission, she insisted, had been pulled directly from the Centers for Disease Control website.
"The CDC posted that information [tears and sweat a risk for HIV transfer] on their website and then they took it down," she said in a 2010 Colorado Independent interview. "They found HIV in tears; we never said it was transmitted that way," she said, then added, "You can't say there has never been a case or that there isn't a chance HIV can be transferred that way."
The Centers for Disease Control denied Mackenzie's claim that the CDC had posted inaccurate information.
Mackenzie and WAIT also came under fire for the group's support of Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, a flamboyant supporter of Uganda's draconian "Kill the Gays" bill that called for the death penalty in cases of "aggravated homosexuality." An abstinence-only evangelist, Ssempa courted media attention by burning condoms during public rallies and making repugnant claims about homosexuals, including one that gays eat feces. Mackenzie and WAIT booked speaking engagements in the United States for Ssempa, printed his business cards and helped him develop his website — although they did not use any federal funds to do so, Mackenzie says.
Mackenzie finally severed ties with the Ugandan pastor after reportedly receiving death threats over WAIT's ties to Ssempa.
By last October, any misgivings Commissioner Jones might have had about making an end run around the governor had evaporated. (Jones, who left Colorado last fall and now heads the Las Vegas schools, did not respond to requests for an interview.)
On October 23, he e-mailed Littleton and asked her to pass along thanks to Mackenzie for all she'd done to bring the Title V money to Colorado. "I wanted to send you a message that I received from Diana [Sirko, deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Education Office of Teaching and Learning] related to her conversation with Joneen," he wrote. "It will be helpful if you might encourage Joneen to continue working with Diana related to this grant. I have to make sure this grant is done correctly and protects the department. I want our team to work with Joneen as much as we can. We will have to follow state law.... I continue to appreciate all that Joneen has done to bring these funds into the state."
Despite Jones's appreciation for all that Mackenzie had done, CDE officials downplay her role in the process, which required that Colorado submit a proposal to the feds highlighting the state's need for funding and outlining its implementation plan. "We received input from several different sources regarding the state plan, and WAIT Training was just one of them," says Melissa Colsman, director of the CDE Office of Teaching and Learning, who was in charge of overseeing the development of Colorado's plan and submitting it to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Data provided by WAIT about teen pregnancy rates and STDs was incorporated into the final Title V implementation plan submitted to Washington.
In another e-mail to Jones, Littleton conveyed her desire for an "exploration of the bidding process so that the Center for Relationship Education [formerly WAIT Training] can be prepared for the process.... It is the desire of the Center for Relationship Education to train educators in the State Health Education Standard as well as getting them trained and certified in curricula that meets state standards and regulatory guidelines. Once they have the resources and the professional development in the curricula they choose, they will be ready to implement these educational strategies into the classroom."
Once the Title V funding was secured, the CDE issued an open Request for Proposal for the money, with applications due in January 2011.
Colsman confirms that CRE/WAIT was the only organization to benefit from the Title V grants that had also helped the state with its plan to get that funding.
The independent grant reviewers selected by the CDE were given a scoring rubric against which to judge all Title V applicants. In order for an organization to be awarded full funding, it had to achieve a score of 80 out of a possible 115 points and address all required elements.
Only five programs applied for Colorado's abstinence-only funding: CRE/WAIT, Friends First Inc., Pueblo City-County Health Department, Center Consolidated Schools and Healthy Colorado Youth Alliance.
Healthy Colorado Youth Alliance was the only organization to not receive funding: The program focused on development rather than implementation — a requirement of the RFP — and was "not clearly focused on abstinence education," the CDE determined.
Pueblo City-County Health Department and Center Consolidated Schools scored well: 84 and 93, respectively. This made them "first tier" grantees, allowing full funding of each program's request: Pueblo at $58,100 a year and Center at $60,950 a year for the next three years.
The "second tier" grantees did not attain the 80 out of 115 points required for full funding. CRE/WAIT's scoring was the lowest, at only 54 points. Despite this, CRE/WAIT was given the opportunity to revise its application, incorporating improvement recommendations from the CDE to receive partial funding. CRE/WAIT received its first payment in May of this year — the first installment of its $233,500-per year grant.
Littleton-based Friends First Inc. scored only 70 points and was also allowed to revise its application. Ultimately, it was awarded $233,400 per year for a three-year period.
According to state filings, Lisa Rue founded Friends First in the early 1990s as the Colorado Coalition for Abstinence Education, Inc. She co-authored the WAIT Training curriculum with Mackenzie.
In a February e-mail to the Colorado Board of Education, current Colorado Department of Education Commissioner Robert Hammond said that CRE/WAIT and Friends First Inc. were able to receive funding despite their low scores because Pueblo City and Center Consolidated requested so little money.
Healthy Colorado Youth Alliance — which focused on abstinence plus comprehensive sex education — wasn't given a chance to rewrite its application. Although the group declined to comment on being turned down for the Title V funds, it sent a statement: "We urge Colorado parents and community members to investigate the curricula being used in their schools and to demand that students have access to complete information about sexual health that is medically accurate, culturally relevant and inclusive of all youth, free of fear- and shame-based teaching strategies, and that has been proven to help youth delay the early onset of sexual activity and practice safe sex if they do have sex."
The CDE gave CRE/WAIT feedback on how to improve its application, listing its "strengths" and "weaknesses." The CDE asked CRE/WAIT to revamp its application to address high salary costs for program administration, duplicative and excessive costs for video production, high evaluation costs, excessive printing costs, insufficient matching fund resources and a do-over of its video production focus.
The CDE's assessment of CRE/WAIT's strengths was much shorter: "1. Focused on abstinence education, 2. Plan designed to reach a large number of students, 3. Strong letters of support."
Among the many letters of support, a few stand out.
Amy Stephens talked of her years working with Mackenzie and how she has been impressed with Mackenzie's passion and dedication. "Majority Leader Stephens supports the goals of the WAIT Training program and the Center for Relationship Education, and wrote a letter of support as she does with other worthy projects applying for state or federal grant funds," her office explains. "Relationship education skills benefit all youth regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation."
Congressman Mike Coffman's letter related his glowing experience with Mackenzie and her efforts to combat teen pregnancy and poverty during his time as Colorado Secretary of State. And Peggy Littleton, in her new role as El Paso County Commissioner, also submitted a strong letter of support.
A 2007 Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) report studying the impact of abstinence-only programming in schools on LGBT kids found that "a significantly greater portion of students in schools that used an abstinence-only curriculum reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and gender expression—64.8% of these students felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation compared to 57.3% of all other students."
The report also noted that "LGBT students in schools that used abstinence-only sex-education curricula also reported experiencing higher levels of victimization related to their sexual orientation and gender expression than other students."
Perhaps as a result, the 2010 U.S. Title V grant circular — the document from the Administration for Children and Families division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services that guides grantees on proper use of Title V funds — included this language: "ACF also encourages them [Title V recipients] to consider the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth and how their programs will be inclusive of and non- stigmatizing toward such participants."
This language "is part of the actual grant," Colsman says. "The majority of the language in our RFP came almost verbatim from the federal program. We pulled directly from there."
The Colorado RFP includes a list of eleven assurances an organization must agree to before it can receive federal money. Number five on that list: "The applicant will not discriminate against anyone regarding race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, color, disability, or age."
"Obviously, abstinence-only programs ignore the needs of LGBT youth," says Emily Greytak, senior research associate at GLSEN. "They are disenfranchised, their existence is ignored, and it clearly doesn't provide them any information on their sexuality.
"LGBT kids feel more alienated by abstinence-only," she adds. "They are essentially being told their future relationships are not valuable."
In WAIT Training's Title V application, Mackenzie addresses the RFP mandate for inclusivity of LGBTQ students this way: "The American Psychological Association Gay and Lesbian Issues Team have vetted the WAIT Training Curriculum for inclusive language and appropriate activities that include all students...only data driven curricula that is inclusive and not stigmatizing to this population will be utilized in this effort."
But while the APA did review WAIT Training materials, "we never conveyed any sort of approval to WAIT Training as being adequately inclusive or appropriate for lesbian, gay and bisexual students," says Clinton Anderson, associate executive director and director of the APA's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office.
Several years have passed since he reviewed WAIT Training's materials, Anderson adds, but he recalls that his main concern was "if the theme is delay of sexual behavior until marriage that the trainers needed to be clear that marriage for same-sex couples was affirmed."
At the time, Mackenzie told Anderson she supported affirmation of LGBT relationships, but he says he "did not feel the materials or the trainer training and selection processes were clear enough to ensure that all trainers would be as affirmative as she indicated she was."
WAIT's misrepresentation of his organization's stance is of "personal concern," Anderson says now. Although he acknowledges that the word "vetted" on WAIT's application leaves room for interpretation, "no one likes to be used inappropriately for gain."
Luis Toro, the director of Colorado Ethics Watch, an extension of the Washington D.C.-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has his own concerns about WAIT Training and Littleton's role in the Title V funding and award process.
According to the State Board of Education Code of Ethics, "Although mere appearance of impropriety will not invalidate a board action or subject a board member to liability every board member shall be aware of the appearance of impropriety and its consequential damage to public confidence in government and all board members shall conduct themselves accordingly. Board members will conduct the affairs of the board impartially in the absence of personal, financial, or other official stake in the decision."
After looking over CDE e-mails, Toro suggests that the State Auditor's Office may want to "look at the whole procurement process from start to finish."
He's particularly interested in Mackenzie's claim of LGBTQ inclusiveness and the APA's response. "Regardless of the technicalities that would come into play if the WAIT contract were challenged, Colorado statutes about contracting establish an ethical standard that one should not make misrepresentations when submitting grant applications to the state," Toro says. "It looks like WAIT violated that ethical standard here by claiming that the APA 'vetted' WAIT's LGBT inclusiveness criteria when the APA says that did not happen."
While looking at the documents, Toro noticed that the signature line of Mackenzie's e-mails bears a quote from Maggie Gallagher, chairman and co-founder of the notoriously anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, a New Jersey group. "It is impossible to imagine that an organization whose director uses a quote from Gallagher is going to create a safe and inclusive environment for lesbian and gay youth," Toro says. "Obtaining government dollars by falsely claiming to be inclusive and tolerant of gay and lesbian youth actually hurts those young people."
The CDE has limited resources to monitor grantee activities, Colsman says, since its one reviewer also spends time on many administrative duties. "Within the confines of the resources we have, we approach this with the highest level of sensitivity and with a sense of rigor," she notes. "If we find in any school district under any grant program that there has been intentionally misleading or misinformation, of course we address it with the district or the grantee. That kind of behavior is unacceptable, and we'll work it through within the confines of the law and within the confines of the grant parameters."
Tracy Phariss, an openly gay teacher at Golden High School and chair of GLSEN Colorado, says strides have been made in other areas of school curriculum, but more has to be done. "We have got to make sure that all curricula — be it social studies, history, English or sexual health education — are inclusive of all," he says.
And his group will be keeping an eye on WAIT Training, he adds: "We will work to ensure school districts in Colorado implementing WAIT Training are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, and that it lives up to a district's non-discrimination policies."
Sources close to the process of obtaining and distributing Colorado's Title V money say that Mackenzie's pursuit of the funds was relentless, and that she and Littleton called Jones constantly.
Mackenzie declined to be interviewed over the phone, but she did agree to answer questions via e-mail.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Asked about the role her group played in Colorado's applying for the abstinence-only grant, Mackenzie responds with her own question: "Why would Governor Ritter reject Title V when there are so many teen pregnancies in Colorado? Don't we need all the help we can get?"
As for the APA's adamant denial that it approved WAIT Training curriculum as being LGBTQ-inclusive, Mackenzie writes: "Two gentleman there who were in charge of LGBTQ issues reviewed WAIT Training, had a conference call with me, asked me to change some wording, I did and that is about the extent of it."
Questioned about how she became so involved in the state's push for Title V funding, she replies, "All I know is that the school board voted to go after Title V."
Then she ends the conversation with this: "I have no idea why this is an issue. All we are doing is trying to educate, equip, and empower young people to have healthy relationships and healthy lives."