Local News

Book Being Thrown at Abstinence Law

Posted September 25, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— When it comes to Sex Education in our state, there's a new law that requires schools teach abstinence until marriage. In Franklin County, the plan to comply with the law is drawing fire. Entire chapters are being ripped out of textbooks in order to keep information about sex, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases away from students.

The matter has been debated for more than a year in Franklin County. It didn't reach a head until the decision was made and a volunteer school mom worked to slice out offending sections from textbooks. The school system is caught in the middle. The law says to teach abstinence, and the law gives them no choice.

It's called "Making Life Choices," a 9th grade health textbook. But the Franklin County Schools curriculum committee and several parents didn't consider it healthy until a couple of chapters were cut out of the book. The uncut version shows some of the controversial passages, topics like contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. The book repeatedly mentions abstinence, but the parts in question still got the axe.

Superintendent Gene Allen says many people didn't think the book went far enough. He says the law says abstinence until marriage, and that's the context the school system has to operate under.

Parents who support slicing out the chapters say the solution isn't pretty, but it's right for the students.

"I think it's regretable to have books that we have to cut up in order to present the right type of the material to the kids," says parent Keith Shearon, "but I don't oppose making modifications to text and materials in order to do the right thing."

Other parents say no amount of editing can hide the facts.

Parent Al Sayles says good information is being kept away from the kids. Parents aren't keeping kids from having sex if they want to. More than 75% of kids will become sexually active before leaving high school. Sayles believes kids should be protected rather than written off because they're sexually active.

Parents agree they want kids to abstain from sex. They just disagree on how to get there.