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Wake School Board Votes On New Sex Education Guidelines

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Wake County School Board voted 5-4 Tuesday evening to keep abstinence-only education for students in grades 7 through 9.

The original vote was tied 4-4, with the school board chairwoman casting the deciding vote.

The program will be expanded to include additional material and updated statistics. However, the debate over what should be taught in schools is far from over.

Since a public hearing in October on the sex education issue, Wake County schools have been bombarded with feedback.

"We've heard a great deal from the community and we have a very intelligent community that looks at things and tries to make good judgment based on what they deem to be in the best interest of the children," said Bill McNeal, superintendent of Wake County Schools.

People who support comprehensive sex education said expanding the current curriculum is the right thing to do.

"We know that the vast majority of parents in the United States, and here in Wake County, do support a more comprehensive option. Poll after poll shows that they do want their kids to have that information," said Ian Palmquist, who supports a comprehensive sex education plan.

"They are absolutely positive, because they give people more information with which to take on the challenges of being a young adult in American society," said Ricardo Perez, who supports a comprehensive sex education plan.

Those against making changes said abstinence-only education is the only message to send to students.

"It changed my life, being taught this message. So I'm here to fight for those kids who don't know," said Selisa McDonald, who supports absintence-only sex education.

"What's at the core of it for me is what's best for our children. Many people have said this is a religious issue and certain ones of us have religious beliefs, but it is based upon what is best for the child and for the parent," said Pat Bornheimer, who supports absintence-only sex education.

There is still one more vote on comprehensive sex education for students in grades 10 through 12.Parents would have to sign off on the plan, which the board could vote on in the next two weeks.

The comprehensive curriculum would include educating students about contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases and how to build healthy relationships.

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