Abstinence pays off for Joneen Mackenzie and the Center for Relationship Education

The February 26 Denver Post featured a lengthy article on Joneen Mackenzie and how she became a crusader for abstinence education -- a crusade she leads through her Center for Relationship Education, which is funded by a pair of grants, including one approved by the Colorado Board of Education even though then-Governor Bill Ritter had rejected the federal money earmarked for Colorado.

"Forbidden Fruit," an August 2011 Westword cover story , detailed how Ritter, in 2007, had signed HB 1292, a comprehensive sex-ed measure which stipulated that in-school sex-education programs must also supply evidence-based, medically accurate information on the use of condoms and other contraceptives, as well as the benefits of abstinence in eliminating STDs and teen pregnancy. So when the feds made abstinence-only funding available through Title V, Ritter declined to go for that money, instead electing to seek funding for comprehensive sex education through the federal Personal Responsibility Education Program.

But members of the State Board of Education made an end-run around Ritter, starting with a letter that then-boardmember Peggy Littleton sent to then-Commissioner of Education Dwight Jones: "Give me a call to discuss so that we may move forward as quickly as possible to capture funding," she wrote "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 Mrs. Mackenzie was Joneen Mackenzie, whose 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 thanks to the board's defiance of Ritter's wishes, $233,000 of that came from Title V.

The Post piece on Joneen Mackenzie notes that Planned Parenthood recently linked to Westword's abstinence-funding story. Click to read "Forbidden Fruit."

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