Thursday, March 29, 2001

Sex education overhauled to promote 'abstinence only'

By E.K. Meister
Enquirer Contributor

        EDGEWOOD — Schoolchildren in Northern Kentucky counties will have a new sex education curriculum, beginning immediately, after a Wednesday night vote at a packed meeting of the board of health.

        Board members of the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department — which provides curriculum and instructors for public schools in Boone, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton counties — voted 16-4 Wednesday night to change all sex education in public schools to an “abstinence-only” curriculum.

        This means that though birth control can be discussed with students, it is to be discouraged, as is sex before marriage.

        The board's Wednesday night vote will require, among other things, that educators direct students to adhere to abstinence until marriage and that educators avoid what it calls double or mixed messages such as “safer sex.”

        Board member Robert Hay — long a vocal opponent of abortion and the two existing sex education programs in the schools — pushed for the vote as soon as the scheduled public discussion ended, against the wishes of chairman Dr. Stephen Hiltz and four board members who wanted the vote tabled for further study.

        Two prominent sex education programs now in use, Reducing the Risk (RTR) and Teen Outreach Program (TOP) would be banned in the Northern Kentucky Health District.

        The change does, however, allow three organizations already using the TOP program — Bellevue's Brighton Center, Grant County Middle School and Campbell County High School — to complete it.

        “These kids are not any happier or freer when they are able to engage in sex,” said board member Clare Ruehl of Lakeside Park.

        She said she believes the programs banned with the vote give teens permission to do just that.


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