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Pennsylvania: Catholic High School Pulls Plug on STD Film

January 25, 2008

A film shown last week during STD workshops at Archbishop Ryan Catholic High School's Health Fair has led school officials to reiterate the church's opposition to pre-marital sex.

In the film, presented by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, local DJs say that abstinence is one way to avoid STDs. But they also warn students who are sexually active to use protection and get tested for STDs. The film includes flickering scenes of teens engaged in "dirty dancing" in darkened all-ages night clubs.

But before the week was over, school administrators reviewed the film and determined it gives students a message that contradicts Catholic teachings. "Abstinence and only abstinence is the only option" for Archbishop Ryan students, said Michael J. McArdle, the school's president.

Now, all 50 students who attended the workshops will meet with school officials, who will "explain and reaffirm the church teachings on sexuality," said Donna Farrell, spokesperson for the archdiocese.

Dr. Lenora Asbel, medical director of STD programs at the city health department, said the film was approved by the Philadelphia School District and has been used by the city's public schools for the past year. The film notes that one in 12 young women ages 15-19 in Philadelphia has been exposed to chlamydia. "The message was blunt," Dana Nottingham, a public health nurse who conducted the workshops, said some of the Ryan teachers told her afterwards. "But it was something they said the students needed to hear."

Back to other news for January 2008

Adapted from:
Philadelphia Daily News
01.21.2008; Valerie Russ

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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