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Education Reporter

CDC Sex Ed Programs Spark Furor in Illinois
Sen. Patrick O'Malley
Sen. Patrick O'Malley
SPRINGFIELD, IL - The same federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC)-backed sex education programs that scandalized Ohio residents earlier this year have caused an uproar in Illinois. Outraged Ohioans forced their state legislators in January to refuse nearly $1 million in CDC grants, a portion of which would have been required to fund the CDC's controversial "Programs That Work" (PTW). (See Education Reporter, May 2000.)

Details about the use of the PTW in Illinois became public when the CDC, through the Illinois Board of Education, contracted with Illinois State University to pay $120,000 to train teachers to teach the curriculum called "Reducing the Risk." The Associated Press reported that the "potential three-year contract" with CDC would by November 2000 train teachers to teach the curriculum to 9th and 10th graders. "Reducing the Risk" includes explicit sex instruction, student field trips to family planning clinics, and visits to drugstores (preferably with a partner) to explore condom availability and compare brands, textures and colors.

Pro-family groups accused the Illinois Board of Education of ignoring state law that requires sex instruction to emphasize abstinence until marriage as the "expected norm." State Sen. Patrick O'Malley (R) spoke for many parents and concerned citizens when he told the Peoria Journal Star (5-24-00): "Anything that is a promotion of teenage sexual activity rather than preventing it is counterproductive." He described "Reducing the Risk" as "startling."

Columnist Phil Luciano blasted the programs in the same newspaper on May 26. "Our schoolhouses have been overtaken by condom minions," he wrote. "In the process, the state has given me another reason to keep my daughter far away from public schools." He glibly noted: "I don't even want to know what they have to do to get an A in that class."

Luciano quoted guidelines from "Reducing the Risk," including what he termed "advice for friskier students": "You can engage in sex that does not put you in contact with someone else's blood, semen or vaginal fluids."

Later in the editorial, he observed that even students who get moral training at home shouldn't be given the temptation of being sent "on prophylactic field trips." He warned parents with children in sex ed classes to "grill teachers" about the curricula. "Otherwise," he opined, "don't be surprised if your child's textbook includes Hustler magazine."

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