NEWS OF: 5/25/2006

Westbrook Sex Ed: Where the Rubber Hits the Road

Westbrook’s eighth-graders will learn about contraception this fall following a stormy school board meeting. School Board members present voted for the curriculum, despite protests by some parents and the Christian Civic League of Maine.

Those against the measure made the usual arguments that once children know about contraception, they will abandon their virginity… enter into same sex relationships and worship Satan. Those for the measure made the usual arguments about more knowledge being better than less knowledge.

School officials countered that contraception was part of the junior high health curriculum as recently as the early 1990s, but had somehow disappeared. They stressed that the sex education program would emphasize abstinence and that parents could choose to have their students opt out of specific units.

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NEWS OF: 3/6/2006

Westbrook: Gettin’ Jiggy Wittit

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The teen pregnancy rate is going up in Westbrook and that has led to the notion of teaching sex education earlier - in eighth grade. This is alarming those parents who are too old and uncool to be having sex themselves, but naturally assume that sex education will promote sexual activity. Compared to what’s going on now?

But ask yourself this, once you learned algebra, did you find yourself constantly solving for x?

The public meeting with the School Committee is 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Westbrook High School cafeteria, and please, raise your hand. See PPH

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NEWS OF: 10/3/2005

Federal Abstinence Message Too Flaccid for Maine

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Citing concerns that the Federal abstinence educational message is soft, flaccid and only holds average student attention for 2-5 minutes - tops, Maine turned down that now-famous $100 grand plus. But what exactly are the “8 simple rules” that MUST be taught?

Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act, P.L. 104–193

For the purposes of this section, the term “abstinence education” means an educational or motivational program which:

A. has as its exclusive purpose teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;

B. teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children;

C. teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-ofwedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems;

D. teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of sexual activity;

E. teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;

F. teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society;

G. teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances, and

H. teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.

Toward a Sexually Healthy America: Roadblocks Imposed by the Federal Government’s Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education Program by
Advocates for Youth, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) is worth a read in between, you know, hooking up.

NEWS OF: 9/21/2005

Get Your Abstinence On the Streets…

That decision to refuse the $161,000 federal grant for the “no-sex education” curriculum may come back to bite ME next time Maine wants the Legislature to increase funding for the Bureau of Health.

State Sen. Debra D. Plowman, the Hampden republican who sheparded that vital piece of legislation allowing electronic moose calls in the state’s moose hunt for a company in her district that manufactured those very moose calls, was outraged that “bureaucrats” are making decisions that should be made by “lawmakers.” Illustrating those very statesmen-like qualities, Plowman has vowed that in the future she’ll urge Republicans and Democrats to deny budget expansions for the bureau of health in the future.

The sex education grant in question is for teaching everything but safe sexual practices, making it about as useful as a crocheted condom. And while lawmakers may feel empowered to be outraged at home, that outrage seems to disappear when it comes time to confront an administration that’s wasting time, taxpayer money, and everyone’s patience pursuing unrealistic and moralistic policies that simply don’t work. See: BDN

NEWS OF: 9/20/2005

Where the Rubber Hits the Road: Does Oral Sex Break Your Virginity Pledge?

Maine has become one of only three states with the Moxie to stand up and refuse the federal funding that comes wrapped in an abstinence-only based sex-education program. Why turn it down? Because federal guidelines do not allow any of the money to be used to teach so-called “safe sex” practices.

Over the past five years the federal government has spent nearly a billion %&# dollars telling teens that they should not have sex until they are married and that condoms won’t keep them from getting pregnant or a variety of horrific diseases that will ruin their lives. This “panic room” approach, applied correctly, will prevent some people from having sex prior to marriage and will ensure that even after marriage they’ll never enjoy it. Nice job!

It’s only fair to ruin the lives of any parents, teachers and administrators who support this. So, picture your 13 year old having oral sex because it’s seen as not “technically” breaking his or her “virginity pledge”. There goes your peace of mind.

After the Promise: the STD consequences of adolescent virginity pledges, by the Journal of Adolescent Health (April 2005) indicates that the STD infection rate for virginity pledgers does not differ from nonpledgers. Possible explanations are that those taking virginity pledges are less likely than others to use condoms when they do have sex. Maybe because they don’t know how.

On a global scale, Stephen Lewis, the UN secretary general’s special envoy for HIV/Aids in Africa, said US cuts in funding for condoms and an emphasis on promoting abstinence had contributed to a shortage of condoms in Uganda, one of the few African countries which has succeeded in reducing its AIDS infection rate. Uganda has had extraordinary success in reducing adult infection rates from 30% in the early 1990s to below 6% last year. Mr Lewis said, “To impose a dogma-driven policy that is fundamentally flawed is doing damage to Africa.”

NEWS OF: 9/6/2005

“No blowfish, please.”

Abstinence-only education is turning out to be a yawn for Maine’s school districts. A year after Heritage of Maine won a $1.5 million federal grant (okay, who authorized THAT?) to launch the program, the nonprofit is playing well in religious schools and youth groups where “No” and “You’ll go to Hell” are frequent and popular answers to everything already.

Mary Schiavoni, president of the Portland-based “Heritage of Maine” says her abstinence course focuses on changing the behavior of teenagers by building their character (insert your own joke here based upon your own teenagers or your personal history.) The real test of that character is that they are given no other information about what happens when, say, the “heritage” of one person comes into contact with the “heritage” of another person. Kind of like sending an American to Japan with only one phrase: “no blowfish, please.”

Maine schools do teach abstinence, of course, along with everything else… and plan to keep on doing so. See Boston.com

NEWS OF: 8/25/2005

Abstinence Education: Just Say No

The Maine Department of Education has informed all district school superintendents in the state to “just say no” to Heritage of Maine’s abstinence-only approach to sex education program - a curriculum that discusses only abstinence - fails to meet state health education guidelines that require sex education programs offer instruction on abstinence, birth control, and on using condoms to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. See: Advocate

NEWS OF: 5/11/2005

Sexually Frustrated and Heavily Armed…

Sen. Lois Snowe-Mello, R-Poland, is sponsoring LD 1639, abstinence education in place of or in addition to sex education in schools. Current sex education, she argues, is all about “how to have sex without adding all the benefits of not having sex.” But rather than leave it to students to just “not do it” and wing the whole abstinence thing, she arguing for a course of instruction that will be longer and, maybe, harder. One that will last all semester… Maine schools currently teach abstinence. But teaching “nothing” doesn’t take that long, so once that ten minutes is up, you’re back to which end of the condom to use.

Sandy Lovell, director of education for the Family Planning Association of Maine, said abstinence-education proponents want to eliminate discussion of contraception save for condom failure rates. See The KJ

Ironically, Sen. Snowe-Mello came out against the ban on assault weapons as “chipping away at our freedoms.”

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