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SIECUS Rep. 1998 Feb-Mar;26(3):23.

Abstinence-only guidelines restrict postponing sexual involvement adaptation.



While abstinence-based, the Emory/Grady Teen Services Program's "Postponing Sexual Involvement" curriculum, first published in 1983, contains detailed, comprehensive information about reproduction, family planning, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It has helped adolescents to delay the initiation of sexual involvement. The program responsible for the curriculum is part of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. A new adaptation of the sexuality education curriculum, titled "Managing Pressures Before Marriage", is strictly aligned with the 7 restrictive provisions of the new federal abstinence-only education guidelines. It argues that abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage is the expected standard for all school-age children, a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity, and sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects. SIECUS staff were dismayed to review the new curriculum because the changes have turned the effective Postponing Sexual Involvement curriculum into one which explicitly promotes the restricted abstinence-only federal law. The new Managing Pressures Before Marriage risks alienating adolescents who are sexually active, who are children of single parents, and who may be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. HIV/AIDS is mentioned only briefly; the only mention of contraception and condoms is that they are not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs; sexual orientation is never mentioned, and all of the role plays and skits are heterosexual; and the "finding help" section no longer encourages adolescents to seek more information from parents, libraries, physicians, and hotlines. The original Postponing Sexual Involvement curriculum is, however, still available.

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