Louisiana Governor's Program on Abstinence Appearing in More Schools

More and more seventh-graders around Louisiana will be taught that they should say no to sex before marriage as Gov. Mike Foster's Program on Abstinence expands to include schools in 20 parishes. The governor's program began three years ago as a pilot in a few schools across the state. Beginning this fall, seventh graders in Lincoln Parish will be among those joining classmates around the state spending 12 hours in classes that focus on abstinence.

"It's pretty well integrated into the regular curriculum," said DeSoto Schools Superintendent Walter Lee. School boards in Bossier and Webster parishes are also considering adding the governor's abstinence program to their curricula. "It [the program] is growing this year. We have had acceptance from 90 percent of the school boards we've presented to," said Steve Casey, a program curriculum coordinator for north Louisiana.

Teaching abstinence as opposed to safe sex makes more sense, Casey said. "At the rate STDs are growing, safe sex is just not working. We feel if we can catch them early in middle school we can get them to say no by the time they're in high school," he said.

Once a school board adopts the curriculum, volunteers are asked to teach the 12-hour course, Casey said. "We feel that by getting volunteers to teach the curriculum, we take the added pressure off the teachers," he said. Volunteers must undergo background checks and other tests, and will not be approved if they have a criminal history. The applicant must then be approved by the school board.

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