Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Students Choose: A Stick of Gum or a Deadly Infection?

This is a lot like the kettle calling the pot black. Except in this case the pot wasn’t black at all. Just a little controversial.

From FRC we get the following report:

'Gum Game' Puts Abstinence Group on the Bubble

An abstinence curriculum called "Worth the Wait" will be forced to live up to its name unless a Maryland county decides to reinstate the group after a so-called "controversial lesson." Despite nine years of service, Montgomery County Schools barred the Rockville Pregnancy Center from teaching the curriculum in its classrooms after the complaint of one parent.

To illustrate the effects of peer pressure and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), leaders passed out a piece of gum and asked students to take turns chewing it (some did). The demonstration was completely voluntary, said teachers, and the obvious purpose was to use the student's wariness about sharing gum to demonstrate the risks of sexual intimacy. According to one of the abstinence educators, the "gum game" had gotten rave reviews from teachers and students alike.

However, a school spokesman disagreed. "What this exercise showed is a terrible lack of judgment. It's disgusting on its face." Rather than ask the group to discontinue or modify the game, Montgomery County revoked the invitation altogether, creating a dangerous void in the local schools for the life-saving abstinence-until-marriage message. As the group's Executive Director, Gail Tierney, said, "We saw 6,500 kids last year. Who's going to talk to them now?"

The incident has created a domino effect for other schools in the metropolitan D.C. area, which are now closely monitoring abstinence programs already in place. The sad irony is, the same Montgomery County schools will now minimize the hazards of promoting promiscuity through comprehensive sex education yet object to having students chew gum to point out the dangers of STDs.

In the end, the real lack of judgment lies not with "Worth the Wait" but with school officials who overreacted to one lesson and threw the baby out with the bathwater. Surely most parents would agree that given the choice, they would much rather have their children swap a stick of gum than a deadly infection.

The Washington Post reported on this story on the weekend, quoting Deputy Superintendent Frieda K. Lacey as saying the gum exercise was "repulsive."

But isn’t that strange? Isn't this the same school system that provided condom demonstrations in the classroom using cucumbers, endorses the Planned Parenthood brand of sex education, and teaches that homosexual couples are the newest American family?

What does this have to do with protecting unborn children in Canada?

Lots really. FRC’s account exposes the kind of muddled thinking and perversity that occurs in Canadian classrooms as well. And Canadians need to understand the truth of what is happening.... and be helped to see alternatives. If we purpose to sow some different seeds in our education system we can be assured of a different harvest, and in regard to sexuality issues in schools, we desperately need different outcomes.

It is important to note also that things are probably worse in Canada in this department because first of all I suspect that few school boards even permit the pro-life (or abstinence) message into their schools at all. This means proportionately fewer Canadian students have been exposed to any alternate moral instruction in regard to issues of sexuality and abortion.

The recent same sex marriage legislation which was passed in Canada is an indication that our society has progressed further along this path than have our American neighbours.


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