Maryland Abstinence Education Group Faces Criticism Over Waiting Game

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 14, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Maryland Abstinence Education Group Faces Criticism Over Waiting Game Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 14
, 2007

Rockville, MD ( — 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," one administrator said

Rather than ask the group to discontinue or modify the game, Montgomery County revoked the invitation altogether, which pro-life groups say is 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.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, responded to the situation.

"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," he said.

"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," he added.

"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," He concluded.

The Family Research Council is urging pro-life advocates to contact Maryland’s schools to reverse their stance and give abstinence a chance. Call the Montgomery County Board of Education at (301) 279-3617.

Related web sites:
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