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Education Reporter

Oregon Students Take CDC's
'Youth Risk Behavior' Survey
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GRESHAM, OR - Public school students here are taking a modified version of the Centers for Disease Control's nosy "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System" (YRBSS) questionnaire. This survey caused an uproar in Ohio after its debut in 1996, when it was used to justify introducing the CDC's explicit sex ed "Programs That Work" (PTW). (See Education Reporter, May & July 2000.)

According to concerned parents, Oregon schools participating in the "testing" receive additional funds from the state. The survey is given annually to 6th, 7th, 8th, and 11th graders. The survey's explicit sex questions may be omitted for 6th grade. (See excerpts)

Gresham parents are informed that the purpose of the test is to help school administrators deal with a variety of student problems. Parent Rebecca Ekstrom told Education Reporter that, while the schools do allow parents to opt their children out of the test, she believes that a written permission form should be required before any student is permitted to take it. "While I appreciate the fact that I could and did release my children from the test, I was disappointed by the release procedure," she stated. "Had my mail been misplaced or delayed, my children would have been tested without my knowledge or consent."

Parents say the schools are claiming that the test helps determine whether drug use and other undesirable behaviors are increasing among students. As one parent observed, however, even if increases in these behaviors could be accurately documented, none would be helped directly by an anonymous test, which leads to speculation as to its ultimate purpose.

Prelude to PTW?  
Similar reasons for administering the YRBSS were given in Ohio, and the Programs That Work were subsequently implemented in many of the state's public schools. These programs have been widely described as "obscene, vulgar and profane." (The PTW have also surfaced in Georgia, Illinois and Washington state.) One of the five programs, Be Proud! Be Responsible!, encourages students to practice handling condoms by using their fingers as props, and requires them to role play about wearing condoms, discussing "safer sex with multiple partners," and discussing AIDS concerns in homosexual relationships. Field trips to drugstores and family planning clinics are included. Being a Responsible Teen (BART), encourages the use of explicit sexual terms and language.

In January 2000, the Ohio House Education Committee held hearings on the PTW, and the subject matter of the curricula became public. Present at the hearing was parent-activist Laurie MacMillan, who described the material - taken directly from program manuals - as "horrifically immoral." One witness produced an inch-thick manual allegedly designed to show state departments of education how to mislead parents, the public and the press about the programs' content. Two months later, the Ohio legislature voted to freeze CDC monies for the programs.

Ohio parents, who have been fighting the PTW for more than 2- years, insist that the funds to expand these programs have not dried up. Mrs. MacMillan explained that the Department of Education had already completed Phase II of the implementation when the grants were frozen, which means that the original program trainers had already trained others (i.e. teachers, nurses, members of the Red Cross, PTA, and secular organizations, etc.) to continue the expansion. Parents and pro-family leaders believe that CDC monies are now being funneled through private organizations to fund the programs.

All States Receiving Funds 
In Gresham, Oregon, parents have never heard of Programs That Work, but their children are answering questions from the same survey (under the guise of a test) that preceded implementation of the PTW in Ohio.

The curriculum manual for Be Proud! Be Responsible!: Strategies to Empower Youth to Reduce Their Risk for HIV Infection, 5th Edition, 1996, indicates that virtually all states are getting money from the CDC, mostly through state departments of education and health, and that the PTW are to be disseminated to schools and communities across the country.

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