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TO:                 Superintendents of Schools

FROM:           Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner of Education 

RE:                 Abstinence Until Marriage Education Programs

DATE:            August 19, 2005 

School personnel have requested a clarification regarding Maine’s requirements under the Comprehensive School Health Education mandate (CSHE) in the content area of Family Life Education (FLE) particularly in relation to “abstinence until marriage” or “authentic abstinence” programs.  The Maine Department of Education and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services strongly support the language of the Maine legislation that defines “Comprehensive Family Life Education.”

Title 22, M.R.S.A. Chapter 406, § 1902 (1-A) defines “Comprehensive Family Life Education” as follows:  “Comprehensive family life education means education in kindergarten to grade 12 regarding human development and sexuality, including education on family planning and sexually transmitted diseases, that is medically accurate and age appropriate; that respects community values and encourages parental communication; that develops skills in communication, decision making and conflict resolution; that contributes to healthy relationships; that promotes responsible sexual behavior with an emphasis on abstinence; that addresses the use of contraception; that promotes individual responsibility and involvement regarding sexuality; and that teaches skills for responsible decision making regarding sexuality”.

Department of Education rule, Chapter 127, Instructional Program, Assessment and Diploma Requirements, includes the content standards requirements for comprehensive health education, including family life education in alignment with Maine’s Learning Results.

In response to your specific questions, programs called “abstinence only”, “authentic abstinence” education or “abstinence until marriage” programs, such as Heritage of Maine, do not meet the CSHE mandate or the legislative definition of family life education.   Therefore, these abstinence-only education programs as stand alone programs do not meet the health education standards in the Maine Learning Results.  Finally, the Maine Department of Education is not working with “Heritage of Maine”, nor do we endorse their curriculum.  

Thank you for your effective work in comprehensive school health education.  If you have additional questions, or if the Department can be of further assistance on this matter, please contact David Stockford at 624-6650 or e-mail:

Together we are making a positive difference with Maine’s youth.