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Avoid fear, falsehood

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By Ann Farmer

In 2002, Wake County school staff recommended to the school board that an expanded abstinence-until-marriage curriculum be developed for grades 7 through 9, and that a comprehensive sex-education elective be allowed for students in grades 10 through12 who had parental approval.

The board offered a courtesy public hearing. School legal counsel deemed the expanded curriculum for grades 7 through 9 complied with state law.

The staff assembled a panel of doctors and representatives from all sides to review the curriculum and provide input. Copies of the curriculum were made available for public input. A healthy democratic process occurred.

Last spring, the first time the 7-9 abstinence curriculum was offered, very few parents opted to keep their children out.

Religious/political groups such as the Wake County Christian Coalition and the Wake County Citizens for Excellence in Education promised to gut the process.

They endorsed school board candidates they believed would follow the lead of Bill Fletcher, Patti Head and Amy White.

On January 6, the board sabotaged the publicly endorsed curriculum by passing a revised version of the abstinence-until-marriage policy.

Without the support of the mainstream medical community, the abstinence curriculum for grades 7 through 9 must be revamped to reflect a more restrictive interpretation of the abstinence-until-marriage law.

That means students must be taught abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children, and that a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.

This wording, from the abstinence-until-marriage law is medically inaccurate and is not supported by professional scientific literature.

Not abstinence or marriage or heterosexuality provides complete protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Disease does not respect persons. HIV/STDs are communicable diseases that can be contracted through nonsexual routes, such as infected blood for HIV and Hepatitis-B, and then transmitted to a non-infected spouse through sexual intercourse.

Due to the recent Supreme Court decision, school legal counsel’s opinion was that Wake County teachers must now tell students that homosexual acts are legal in North Carolina.

How will the fundamentalists handle this crisis in wording they have forced on us all? Will they tell students the truth? The words are “anal” or “oral” sex, and they apply to everyone.

Sexual abuse is not addressed in the curriculum. Wake County schools have become less friendly for sexually abused students who are in crisis but not willing to be open about their abuse; students who are questioning their sexual orientation; or students who are sexually active and in crisis.

Diversity and tolerance lessons are being removed from the abstinence-until-marriage curriculum because they are considered “too gay friendly.”

Wake school policy states: “No Wake County Public School System employee shall provide information to any student about where to obtain contraceptives and/or abortion referral services.”

How does such a policy benefit the health and welfare of a student who is sexually active by choice or not by choice, and is in need of information on all available resources?

Elbert Hubbard, a philosopher at the beginning of the 20th century said, “All that is not scientific, that is not truthful, must be bolstered by force, fear and falsehood.”

Ann Farmer, the parent of a former Wake County student, says her daughter was a middle-school student when the abstinence-until-marriage curriculum was first  taught in the 1996-97 school year, and did not receive any sex-education instruction that school year or the next..

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