- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) Frederick County students taking sex-education classes may have a sexual-abstinence pledge to look forward to when school begins in the fall.
Lynn Carr, a school health curriculum specialist, said students enrolled in the classes may be asked to sign sexual-abstinence pledge cards as part of the school system's abstinence-based curriculum. The cards ask students to refrain from sexual intercourse.
Mr. Carr said he was not at liberty to discuss how long students would be asked to avoid sex, but he did say that the school system teaches that refusal to have sexual relations is the best way to prevent pregnancy, disease and other problems.
County health teachers tell students that refraining from sex is a good idea until they are "mature," "adult" and in a "long-term relationship," Mr. Carr said.
The Family Life Advisory Committee, a volunteer group that reviews the school system's sex education, asked in April that Mr. Carr create the cards over summer break.
The cards must be approved by committee members, a school curriculum committee and finally, the county Board of Education.
County schools provide sex education for sixth- through ninth-grade students, but it was not known at what age students would be given the cards, said Ron Peppe, school board president.
Although Mr. Carr acknowledged that signing abstinence cards does not guarantee students will keep their word, he said students who sign the cards tend to postpone sexual relationships longer than students who do not take the pledge.
About 2.5 million American teens made a sexual-abstinence pledge during the 1990s, according to researchers.
About 50 percent of the students who signed the cards postponed sex until they were 20 18 months longer than students who did not sign, Columbia University sociologist Peter Bearman said.
Mr. Carr said he hopes the cards and the abstinence-based curriculum will make a difference for county students.
"We hope to give them information they can process within the context of their own lives," he said.
School board member Anne Hooper, who is the board's liaison with the advisory committee, said she believes the cards "could be helpful to some students, and I am for anything that prevents unwanted pregnancies."
Board of Education members have not discussed the cards, but Miss Hooper said she thinks the board will approve the project.
The cards, Mr. Peppe said, are "a good concept."
"I think we get criticized enough for not stressing abstinence," he said. "We have an abstinence-preferred curriculum, it's just not an abstinence-only curriculum."

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