New Jersey: Teachers Clash Over Sex-Ed Approach
October 16, 2002
New Jersey's teachers union canceled three sex education workshops scheduled for its annual three-day conference in Atlantic City beginning Nov. 7 after learning they would be led by an educator and two doctors who believe in abstinence-only sex education in schools.
The workshops were canceled because the presenters' beliefs conflict with the New Jersey Education Association's policy against abstinence-only sex education, according to union spokesperson Karen Joseph. The canceled sessions will be replaced by two workshops led by staff members of the Network for Family Life Education at Rutgers University. The group trains teachers in comprehensive sex education, which includes information on both abstinence and contraception.
Bernadette Vissani, one of the original presenters and director of the New Jersey Coalition for Abstinence Education, called the move "censorship," and she urged teachers to contact the union to protest its action. Vissani's group operates under the aegis of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, which espouses traditional family values. The group, which has received a $92,000 federal grant, is one of 10 in New Jersey to obtain money for abstinence-only programs.
"It's disheartening to see the federal government take a stand like this," said Susan Wilson, director of the Rutgers group now set to lead the workshops. "It has nothing to do with good education, but ideology."
New Jersey lawmakers approved a law last year that requires teachers to stress that abstinence from sexual activity is the only completely reliable means of avoiding pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other STDs. It also mandates that any mention of contraception must include failure rates. Still, the state's sex education curriculum remains one of the more liberal in the country.
Star-Ledger (New Jersey)
10.16.02; Peggy O'Crowley
National Poll Shows Parents Overwhelmingly Support Comprehensive Sex Education Over Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage by 5 to 1 Margin
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.