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Shaheen goes around Executive Council again, this time to restore sex ed


Shaheen goes around Executive Council again, this time to restore sex ed

Sep 22, 2023 | 3:07 pm ET
By Annmarie Timmins
Shaheen goes around Executive Council again, this time to restore sex ed
Linds Jakows, co-founder of 603 Equality (left), joined Sara Smith of Pembroke, and Maura Willing and Liz-Anne Platt, both of Concord, in November to urge the Executive Council to support a decade-old sex education program. (Annmarie Timmins | New Hampshire Bulletin

For a second time, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has helped secure federal dollars to work around three Republican executive councilors to restore a community sex education program they defunded in November.

Shaheen announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will provide direct funding to the TLC Family Resource Center in Claremont and Amoskeag Health in Manchester. Their communities have the state’s highest teen pregnancy rates. 

Shaheen did say how much money is coming their way. But the program’s directors said the funding will allow them to reach nearly 290 students between them.

Shaheen also found federal money last year after the council’s Republicans defunded family planning contracts with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Equality Health Center, and Lovering Health Center. She secured $500,000 to restore Planned Parenthood’s services.

The three councilors who defunded the decade-old sex ed program, Joe Kenney, Ted Gatsas, and David Wheeler, had voted for it previously. Ahead of their vote, Kenney and Wheeler cited the rights of parents to know what their children share during the program, though children cannot participate without parental permission. 

The curriculum is delivered by community agencies not schools, and is open to people up to age 19 and pregnant or parents to age 21. It targets at-risk youth, including those living in homeless shelters and foster care and who have been victims of human trafficking.

Lessons cover abstinence, the reproductive process, sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception. Other topics related to understanding gender identity and expression, and relationship and decision-making skills.

Gov. Chris Sununu urged Wheeler, Kenney, and Gatsas to approve the $680,000 contract. Only councilors Cinde Warmington, a Democrat, and Janet Stevens, a Republican, did.

Following the defeat of the contract, the federal delegation urged federal officials to restore the funding. 

“The Republican Executive Council’s decision to cut long-standing federal funding has severely impacted Granite Staters’ access to valuable, evidence-based sex education information for our most vulnerable youth,” Shaheen said in a statement. 

Warmington worked with the delegation to side-step the council and fund the programs directly.