Midlands school district considers sex ed with emphasis on abstinence

Devon CopelandJanuary 8, 2008 

COLUMBIA -- Lexington 3 school board members are considering a new sex education curriculum.

The Batesburg-Leesville area schools could vote tonight to adopt the Worth the Wait program, a Texas-based initiative that is beginning to spread to parts of South Carolina.

At least six districts, including Lexington-Richland 5, use the Worth the Wait curriculum, said Sheri Few, president of S.C. Parents Involved in Education.

Worth the Wait focuses on abstinence before marriage, statistics on contraceptives and their effectiveness, and helping students resist peer pressure to become sexually active.

If Lexington 3 approves the measure, the district likely would be part of a new, three-year grant.

Lexington 3 schools have emphasized abstinence as required by state guidelines.

While school officials have praised Worth the Wait program, they said they are concerned about how long they might have to commit to the program and the organization's request that they follow the curriculum without changes.

Lexington 3's current curriculum allows individual teachers to alter lesson plans to address students' questions and use teaching methods that are working with students, said Tom Sparks, assistant superintendent.

In addition to classroom instruction, the Worth the Wait program includes parent and clergy workshops, Few said.

"The idea is to get the whole community's support to get children to abstain from sexual activity until marriage," she said.

Worth the Wait's additional focus on community education, Few said, will increase Lexington 3's effectiveness in decreasing the number of students having sex before marriage. The program carries no cost to districts because of state and federal grant funding.

S.C. Parents Involved in Education, which coordinates the program in the state, trains teachers at no additional cost to the district.

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