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BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS
Sex-ed curriculum includes field trip to buy condoms
Parents challenge material targeting children as young as 4th grade
Posted: February 02, 2008
1:00 am Eastern
By Bob Unruh
A campaign has been launched by concerned parents and others in Florida where a school board has adopted an explicit sex ed curriculum that includes various how-to lessons for students as young as fourth grade, and in one incarnation proposed field trips for children to purchase condoms and then talk about their experience.
The dispute is similar to a controversy that has been going on in Montgomery County, Md., over a similarly graphic sex-education curriculum adopted by the school board there that teaches homosexuality is innate and provides depictions of "erotic" sex techniques.
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Brandon M. Bolling, of the Thomas More Law Center, told Judge William J. Rowan III during a recent court hearing on the legality of the program Maryland law requires that information presented in public schools be supported with evidence, and the teaching that homosexuality is "innate" lacks that support.
He also argued that the lessons required by Montgomery County Board of Education teach students how to use condoms in violation of a state prohibition against material that "portrays erotic techniques of sexual intercourse."
In Florida, Pastor Bryan Longworth of the nondenominational Covenant Tabernacle has been spearheading the opposition to the local board's adoption of materials drawn from the explicit "Get Real About AIDS" program, and told WND among other issues to be addressed is a state law requiring that sex education be abstinence-based, not condom-based.
Yet, he warned parents, "your child may actually be required to purchase condoms and return to class to discuss the reaction of store clerks."
He said the materials are heavily weighted towards promoting sex for children, in that the program discusses condoms and contraceptives 210 times, but mentions abstinence, the state-mandated foundation for such education, 17 times.
"What's more: In all but one instance, the curriculum immediately follows the mention of abstinence with the mention of condoms or contraception," he said.
Posted online on the campaign website were some of the statements taken directly from the materials that caused alarm for the more than 3,500 area residents who signed a petition opposing the curriculum. Among those that could be published were:
The material also provides instructions for teachers to arrange students into "cooperative teams" and hand out the worksheet called "Point of Purchase."
"Tell students that the object of the activity is for teams to determine how difficult it is to find condoms… When you get to the store, ask and (sic) employee where the condoms are, even if you already know. The idea is for you to describe the response of the employee."
"Remember, this isn't a game. This is a way to get important information to stay safe," the lessons instruct.
The pastor noted that for students as young as fourth grade there is recommended a discussion of explicit ways the AIDS virus is transmitted, with instructions to teachers to then ask students, "if anyone was surprised by the facts."
Janice Karst, a spokeswoman for the district, said the program was adopted "in addition" to the school's regular abstinence-based program in response to community concerns over a high number of HIV/AIDS cases in the county.
"For about a year, members of (a community) roundtable, from the health department and the school district examined several different kinds of curriculum about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. The one they selected was the only one approved by the Florida Department of Education," she said.
She said there were numerous opportunities for members of the public to comment on the plan, including a weekend forum attended by several hundred people, and the school is giving parents the choice to not have their children in those classes when the materials are discussed.
She confirmed that the complete "Get Real about AIDS" curriculum "does include a segment about showing young people where condoms are sold."
She said, however, that unit of the curriculum is not being used in St. Lucie.
But Longworth said he was appalled to discover the sexual material that students would be presented.
"In teaching this to fourth graders, the school board will rob children of their childhood. I have not met one person who is in favor of teaching sexual content to fourth graders," he wrote.
The school's website noted that Supt. Michael Lannon "believed that the community and parents were informed about the AIDS/HIV epidemic and it was time to do more."
The school district minutes of the board meeting said, "Condom education along with abstinence must be embraced."
Even at that meeting, however, one board member, Troy Ingersol, noted he was uncomfortable with parts of the curriculum and he was troubled by "survey results" and the lack of "community input." He voted against the program.
The votes for the program included those from Kathryn Hensley, Carol Hilson, John Carvelli and Judi Miller, and Longworth noted they were following "the recommendation of Planned Parenthood's Michael Panella."
Longworth said the connection to the nation's largest abortion provider was troubling.
"They're promoting sex. They believe that having sex is a rite of passage for teenagers," he said. "It's pretty that they're targeting, pushing an agenda."
He told WND that opponents were reviewing their options for further protests and objections.
Bob Unruh is a news editor for WorldNetDaily.com.