Central Virginia's Worth Your Wait abstinence program brings its message to more than 6,000 teenagers every year. Tuesday night, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was in Albemarle County to applaud the group's efforts as it prepares for more than a million dollars in cuts from Washington.
The attorney general made it clear he supports abstinence education for teens in Virginia; he says it is working while his critics say it is simply unrealistic. Cuccinelli's stance on sex is simple: if you are not married, it is not okay.
"For young people it's not positive," he said. "It's self destructive in many respects, and it's typically out of control."
Tuesday Cuccinelli joined the Worth Your Wait abstinence group for a fundraiser in Albemarle County. The Obama administration is cutting federal funding for abstinence education. For Worth Your Wait, it is $1.5 million less to share its message with central Virginia's teens.
"Many of these teens make the choice after our program to make a commitment to a lifestyle of sexual purity," said the group's Cynthia Dussault.
It is a choice people on the front lines of sexually transmitted disease prevention and treatment say is often unrealistic. Worth Your Wait reports nearly 70 percent of central Virginia's 12th graders have had sex.
"The danger is that young people are going to do what they feel like anyway," said Hermence Matsotsa of the AIDS Services Group. "And the danger in that is that we're really not looking at what happens when someone is at the moment and feeling pressured to engage in sexual activities."
She, and the AIDS Services Group, says the federal money is better targeted at youth-led, comprehensive sex education.
"That young person sees another young person and says you know, you're just like me and you're facing the same peer pressures I am and you have found a way to overcome them," Matsotsa explained.
Cuccinelli says information on abstinence can help with those pressures.
"These folks give them a foundation for decision making that helps them do that," he said.
Worth Your Wait is currently offering abstinence programs in 15 public and private schools in central Virginia. Its federal grant money will expire in September.