RI Approves Abstinence Education

Heritage of Rhode Island has overcome intitial objections put forward by the RI Dep’t of Education and has received approval to implement it’s “Right Time, Right Place” abstinence education program in RI’s schools. The key concession seems to be that the “only” of the heretofore proposed “Abstinence-only” program has been dropped.

“Heritage’s ‘Right-Time, Right-Place’ curriculum offers positive information that will empower our teens to take control of their lives,” [Lidia] Goodinson said at the event that Heritage sponsored to commemorate World AIDS Day yesterday.
“This abstinence program can only help our present situation and help brighten our children’s futures,” she said.
Heritage says its program is intended to supplement, rather than supplant, current HIV/AIDS instruction in the public school system. Heritage instructors provide abstinence-only sex education only in the presence of regular classroom teachers responsible for teaching the broader curriculum required of local schools.
The group operates on an invitation-only basis, offering about 5 hours of instruction, down from the 6½ hours that the instruction lasted when the program was first introduced. {Unfortunately, the Journal’s story, despite this clarification, referred to it as an “abstinence-only” program later in the piece.}

This study shows that abstinence education works, while this study disputes the effectiveness of abstinence only. (Again, note the difference). Given that Heritage’s program is only part of a broader sex-ed program, protestations from the ACLU ring a little hollow:

But the Heritage program still emphasizes marriage as the only safe setting for sex, and that tends to marginalize not only gay and lesbian students but also children being raised by gay and lesbian parents, Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, said.
The Heritage program also tends to understate the effectiveness of condoms as a form of contraception and means of protection against sexually transmitted diseases, Brown said.
For both reasons, Brown said, the ACLU is drafting a letter to McWalters expressing concern that the program has been approved.

This seems like carping to me. The ACLU was initially concerned that this would be an abstinence only program, and now their moving the goalposts. Besides, it seems a bit ironic that the ACLU is arguing that Heritage’s program discriminates against Gays and Lesbians because it emphasizes that marriage is the only safe setting for sex when the ACLU is also arguing that Gays and Lesbians should be allowed to marry. So where does their objection go if their latter goal is accomplished?
Regardless, it seems like the program will go forward and all options will be put on the table for our kids. So, through compromise, RI students will have it reinforced that abstinence is the only method of pregnancy prevention that “works every time it’s been tried.”

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