- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) Frederick County, Md. public school students may not have to sign abstinence pledge cards after all.
The Family Life Advisory Committee discussed the proposal at its meeting Tuesday, but took no action. The committee, a volunteer group that reviews the school system's sex education, asked in April that the cards be created over summer break.
The committee cannot recommend a sex-education course that advocates only abstinence because the state requires a comprehensive curriculum in public schools, committee Chairman Lois Jarman said.
The law requires sex education to cover contraception as a topic, she said.
Frederick schools currently use a curriculum that is abstinence-based and teaches that abstinence is the preferred way to avoid pregnancy and disease. But it also covers other methods students may use to protect themselves.
County health teachers tell students that refraining from sex is a good idea until they are "mature," "adult" and in a "long-term relationship," school health curriculum specialist Lynn Carr has said.
The volunteer committee was designed to review that curriculum and give opinions to staff not to change the curriculum, Miss Jarman said.
Miss Carr told the committee that abstinence pledge cards do not fit into the schools' sex-education program and that families have more influence on a child's behavior.
Former committee member Jody Hammond argued for the abstinence-only curriculum. "When you tell a child to abstain, but then you add 'but if you're not going to, use a condom,' that is sending a mixed message," said Miss Hammond, who is a registered nurse.
About 2.5 million American teens made a sex-abstinence pledge.

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