Weekly News Round-Up: Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming

Colorado: The Daily Times-Call has an article about a new health clinic for teens in Longmont. Intake over the summer has shown that the clinic is clearly filling a need in the community, especially since teens in Longmont only receive abstinence-only-until-marriage instruction. The article notes that the crisis pregnancy center, Life Choices, provides much of this instruction and that according to school policy sex education curricula is prohibited from including safe-sex messages or condom demonstrations. One of the teen advisers for Life Choices sums up her position on teens that don't abstain,

I know people make mistakes, but people still need to be cared for. I'm torn, because then maybe it's kind of like payback for their behavior, but maybe they made the wrong decision.

Georgia: Has anyone heard of 5th Quarter or have any information on the program? The program is part of efforts by Habersham County to promote abstinence among teens in the community.In Fulton County, the school board recently voted not to expand Beacon of Hope, an abstinence-only-until-marriage program in the county's schools. Members of a school board advisory panel found the required survey imposing as it asked students if they are sexually active in addition to their birth date, grade, gender, ethnic and racial background, and the first two letters of their first and last names. Beacon of Hope follows an abstinence program by the South Carolina-based Heritage Community Services. Other states have found problems with the Heritage curricula, most notably Rhode Island.Maryland: Members of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum in Montgomery County are offering praise for a new condom demonstration video. According to the article,

In the original eight-minute video, a blond female health education teacher spoke about proper condom use, then used a cucumber to demonstrate the correct way to put on a prophylactic. In the new version, a wooden penis replaces the vegetable. Only a pair of hands is shown putting the condom on it, and an off-screen narrator describes the details. In both versions of the video, the narrator emphasizes that abstinence is the most effective way to avoid pregnancy and the contraction of a sexually transmitted disease.

A citizens advisory committee and the Board of Education must approve the video along with a 45-minute lesson plan that comes with a 37-page script. The script contains a statement in bold type that reads:

Under no circumstances are teachers permitted to bring in or use resources other than those provided for this lesson. This lesson is scripted and should be read and followed in its entirety.

The debate surrounding this is pretty interesting -- condom demonstrations that are causing an uproar and forcing teachers to stick to a scripted lesson plan.South Carolina: Greenville Online has a story featuring Miss South Carolina 2005 who used her reign to work on teen pregnancy prevention. She advocates promoting abstinence as the first and best choice, while providing teens with information on how to protect themselves from disease and pregnancy. Miss South Carolina notes,

Educated young people have the opportunity to make responsible, educated decisions about their life. If we trust them and have faith in them, they will.

Meanwhile, The Sun News out of Myrtle Beach interviews Shanna M. Scott, a teen health educator for Family Outreach of Horry County, who supports a similar approach to sex education. In response to a question regarding what people’s biggest fears are Scott says,

That, if you talk about sex, then the kids will say, 'OK, let's go have sex.' I think the more we try to keep silent or hide it, the more intrigued they are going to be. And if they are not getting sex information from the parent, then they are going to get it from somewhere else. Would you rather they come to you or go to Bubba from around the block?

Utah: The Daily Herald reports that cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Utah County are on the rise. Although Utah's numbers for transmission are well below the national average, the recent increase is described by health officials as "dramatic" adding that,

Utah had the biggest percentage increase in gonorrhea than any other state in the nation.

Keep in mind that Utah State Code prohibits schools from engaging in the,

the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices.

Wyoming: The Casper-Natrona County Health Department is offering a two-hour crash course in sex education to increase parental awareness regarding health risks and sexual pressures faced by young people. Anyone planning on attending who can report back on the course?

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