Simmer Down, Kids!

Sex-ed teachers want to know: How do you get hormones to listen to reason?

Public Enemy Number One tiptoes up to the hot tub. She reaches behind her neck to untie her halter. Her dress drops to the ground.

Her name: Tila Tequila. Her claim to fame: being America's most famous bisexual. In her TV show, A Shot at Love, she is courted by 32 suitors, male and female. The MTV program ranks number one among viewers ages 12 to 34.

Beau Heyman says it's great to wait.
c. stiles
Beau Heyman says it's great to wait.
Ricky Siegel won't hold it against kids if they don't wait.
c. stiles
Ricky Siegel won't hold it against kids if they don't wait.
Brandy Smith knew about birth control... but didn't use it because she was in love.
c. stiles
Brandy Smith knew about birth control... but didn't use it because she was in love.
Kristin Newman is not sharing her oxytocin with anyone!
c. stiles
Kristin Newman is not sharing her oxytocin with anyone!

Tila Tequila makes sex-education teachers grind their teeth and pull their hair.

"Kids get ten hours of Tila Tequila a week," grumbles Beau Heyman, project manager for Be the One, a group that ventures into Palm Beach County schools to teach young people the value of abstaining from sex until marriage. "Students only get three hours of our program... a year."

As the vice president of education, training, and counseling, Ricky Siegel directs sex-ed programs for Planned Parenthood, which advocates an approach known as "comprehensive sex ed." Siegel, like Heyman, groans at the thought of Tequila. "It reminds me of the first time I saw a commercial for the Girls Gone Wild videos," he says. "I was like, 'Where are these girls' fathers?' "

Despite their differences, Siegel and Heyman agree: Either qualified adults will shape kids' ideas about sex — or Ms. Tequila will.

But who's qualified?

In school board chambers, in newspaper op-ed pages, and even in the halls of Congress, sexuality education is framed as a momentous battle between two bitter foes, with each side painting the other as totally cuckoo. On one side, proponents of abstinence fasten their chastity belts, lock their knees shut, and Just Say No. On the other side, advocates of comprehensive sex ed toss condoms to teenagers as though they're Mardi Gras beads, practically inviting kids to stage their own orgies. Or that's the impression we get.

Politicians pass laws and administrators rubber-stamp curricula, but such initiatives can have little relevance when they trickle down from boardrooms to classrooms. In the trenches, professional educators on both sides of the debate — the ones actually talking to kids about sex every day — feel that their work is largely mischaracterized.

"This idea that there are two camps battling is so off-the-mark," Planned Parenthood's Siegel says. "It's about raising sexually healthy kids."

"Most people who get into this field have the best interests of kids at heart," Heyman says. "The battle is at the national level — and it's about money."

A lot of money.

The federal government has spent about $1 billion on abstinence programs in the past decade. Currently, the argument is as polarized as ever. Congress was considering boosting funds for abstinence programs by $28 million at the same time that 16 states refused the money on the grounds that such programs aren't effective. The terms of the debate begin to assume the same sickeningly familiar dynamic we see in Iraq: Should we give up? Or start a surge?

The answer seems to lie somewhere between "abstinence until marriage" programs and "comprehensive" sex ed — not to mention the nebulous thing in the middle called "abstinence-plus." There are hundreds of sex-education models in circulation around the country. In South Florida, though, what are kids learning about condoms? Pregnancy? Oral sex?


Be the One knows its message won't get across if some dork tries to deliver it.

Daniel Wilson is a sharp-dressed 22-year-old with piercing eyes and spiky hair. Uniformly, Be the One instructors are young, fit, and squeaky-clean.

In Ms. Floyd's racially mixed health class at Santaluces High School in Lantana, girls bite their fingernails and boys hide under the hoods of their sweatshirts. Wilson fires up his PowerPoint.

He pulls up a chart illustrating that the average person thinks about sex beginning at age 12 or 13, gets married at 25 or 26, and dies in his or her late 70s. That still allows 50 years of sex — and, he implies, better sex. "If I say, 'I'll give you $500 if you sit in that chair for one day, but I'll give you $500 million if you sit in that chair for a week,' which are you going to choose?" he asks.

Some detractors argue that abstinence-until-marriage (sometimes called "abstinence-only") programs are unrealistic because they deny the reality of sexual impulse. Be the One's program, at least, does not. If anything, it feeds the notion that sex is an amazing and pleasurable experience — within the confines of marriage.

Wilson is supposed to serve as a role model, showing that it is possible to wait until marriage to have sex. Even though he didn't personally.

"In my senior year at Boynton Beach High School," Wilson explains to the class, "I started dating Nicole — a gymnast and a dancer. We started having sex. Then she missed a period."

It turned out to be only a scare, but it made Wilson realize he was not ready to be a dad. He broke up with Nicole and was then free to travel the world. Upon his return, he decided Nicole was The One. They "hope to be engaged" soon.

But that doesn't mean they can have sex.

"Is Nicole fine?" he asks rhetorically. "Yes. But we don't even kiss on the lips. Because am I going to want to just kiss her or do more?"

"Do more," the class replies in unison.

"Do we have sex?" Wilson asks.

"Yeah, bro!" a boy pipes up.

"No! But are we going to have sex when we get married?"

Class: "Yessss!"

Wilson explains that he refrains from sex by setting boundaries in advance. He says he and his girlfriend do not spend late nights together "because we're not playing Uno at 3 in the morning."

"Strip Uno," quips one kid.

One girl in the class is confused by Wilson's logic. She asks, "So are you going to be so used to not having sex that you won't do it at all when you get married, or are you going to have sex all the time?"

"I hope all the time!"

Even though he has chosen a life partner, Wilson says it's not until a marriage has actually taken place that a person can fully stop worrying that the partner might leave. Only within marriage, he says, can two people trust each other completely with intimacy and secrets.

Although Be the One is not directly associated with any religion, its parent organization, First Care Family Resources, is faith-based. Both Be the One's and First Care's offices are in the same building as a nondenominational Christian church across the street from School Board headquarters in West Palm Beach.

The organization operates on an $800,000 grant from the federal government. Schools pay nothing for the program, which is usually delivered for one period a day over four days. Be the One educators come into schools at the invitation of a teacher or principal, and of the county's 23 public high schools, Be the One works in 20. Right now, project manager Heyman says, the waiting list for the program is so long that if a teacher requested a guest speaker today, none could be scheduled until fall.

On days one and two, instructors cover physical and emotional differences between men and women, talk about the risk of pregnancy, and show grody pictures of more than 20 sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are discussed — by looking at the package and reading the fine-print disclaimer. Be the One pegs the failure rate of condoms at 16 percent. Heyman says the School Board and the health department have approved the presentation (which Heyman designed) and all of its statistics.

Whenever he is faced with statistics that question the effectiveness of abstinence-only education, Heyman — who supervises the educators — counters with figures touting the benefits of marriage. Heyman himself is 32 and married with three boys. (Yes, he waited.) "Marriage protects against all the consequences of sex," he says — "STDs, pregnancy, and the emotional consequences." Conversely, "There is no social or physical benefit of having sex before marriage." As part of the presentation, Be the One instructors tell students that sexually active teens are eight times more likely to commit suicide than abstinent ones.

On the third and fourth days of instruction, the program's emphasis shifts to marriage and goal-setting. In a typical exercise, students are asked to "explain how practicing abstinence can help you achieve the life you want." Talk about sex is mixed in with general directives such as "Realize that you are valuable. Focus on your future and your goals."

The way Heyman sees it, "Our program is about whole-person health. Not just, 'Did we protect the penis and the vagina?' We want to protect their hearts."

The way his detractors see it, however, abstinence programs ignore the reality of teen sex, impose a subjective morality (which may be particularly offensive to kids who are gay or from broken families), and — worse — withhold or distort medically accurate information.

Wrapping up the fourth and final lesson, Wilson asks kids to sign a "Marriage Investment Plan" that's the size of a credit card and can be stuck in a wallet. By signing, students pledge to give a future spouse "the gift of a healthy, happy me." On the back side, they are asked to write why they are choosing to save sex for marriage.

A boy with a crewcut and a diamond earring sees it as a trick question. "I didn't make this choice," he declares, crumpling up his card and tossing it on the floor.

That's fine, Wilson says. He just wonders aloud how much it would suck to sleep with someone else, catch a disease, and then have to come and tell the girl he wanted to marry about it.

"Ugh," says the boy. He picks up his card and smooths it out.


Ten miles south, in the library of the Delray Beach Boys & Girls Clubs, about 30 students, ages 10 to 15, surround Ricky Siegel, a 44-year-old in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. All except one of the kids is black. All could be described as "at-risk," though Siegel prefers the term "at-promise." Launching into a lesson, Siegel says, "I'm sure you all know where babies come from..."

A 10-year-old kicks an older girl under the table, then whispers in her ear.

"Excuse me!" the girl interrupts, waving her arm urgently. "He don't know where babies come from."

This was probably one of the more shocking things to come up in a class jam-packed with potential for shock. Siegel sees a lot of shocking things these days: kids referring to each other as "friends with benefits"; girls using their bodies to get what they want; domestic violence — even inside of marriage. "Kids are in a lot of danger," he says, and the internet has introduced a whole new realm of misinformation. If young people don't have an adult with whom they can talk about sex, he worries, they'll ask friends — but their friends don't know the right answers either. He sees his program as a place where students are free to get honest, medically accurate information in a nonjudgmental forum.

His opponents see it as a place where kids receive too much graphic detail at too young an age — and worse, where they are tacitly given the go-ahead to have sex.

Siegel promises he will get to the answer about babies, but it will probably require staying late for a one-on-one chat.

The instructor is relegated to the Boys & Girls Clubs because he is only occasionally welcomed in public schools. A state law says that students should be taught abstinence as "the expected standard for all school-age children."

Sex-ed classes are just one component of the Boys & Girls Clubs' T.E.E.N. Society (Teen Education for Every Nationality), which is based on the Carrera model of pregnancy prevention. New York doctor Michael Carrera designed the program, in which sex education is woven into a larger context. Kids also receive job skills and computer training and play sports. Here in Delray, Planned Parenthood says, the program serves 110 at-risk youth, who get sex education once or twice a week as long as they stay in the program. The organization proudly reports that there have been no pregnancies, nor fathering of babies, among program participants since it began around 1997. The program is funded through grants and private donations, with no federal funding.

Siegel brings no computer, no anatomically correct teaching tools, no condoms. Not so much as a note card. Although a regular class might be more structured with lesson plans and games, today's class is something of a free-for-all discussion, guided largely by students' questions. He explains that they will need to make sexual decisions in the coming years and that he will be here to give them the information they need "so that when it comes time to make those decisions, you do it with power."

"Some people think we shouldn't be talking about this," Siegel warns. "That we're putting ideas in your head." But, he points out, every human has reproductive organs, and every student experiences the changes of puberty. So in the class, they discuss everything — "intercourse, sperm, eggs, penises, vaginas..."

Kids titter.

"People go crazy when we say those words, but we all have them. It's not like when they're passing out bodies, you can say, 'Oh, no thank you.' Sex ed is not a lesson on how to 'do it.' Some people think sex is for making babies, something you do in a marriage. And some people think it's for other things — like showing love and affection in a relationship."

He says he wants them to be "the sexually healthiest you can be, long before you even think about having sex. When are you old enough to have sex?"

They throw out guesses: 16? 17? 18? 25?

"It could be 35! You have to be responsible and mature."

When you're married?, ventures one student.

"What do you think the average age is for people to get married?" Siegel asks. Again, students guess.

"The average marriage age is close to 30. Are you going to say no until you're 30? Until 27? Look, I'm just some weird dude that talks about sex for a living. I don't give out permission."

Opponents of comprehensive sex ed argue that talks like these do in fact imply a permission. Planned Parenthood fights this notion, emphasizing in news releases that it hopes kids will abstain but must deal with the reality that many will not. The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control, from 2005, indicate that 46.8 percent of high school students have had intercourse.

Siegel says it's none of his business whether any particular student is sexually active. But he does suggest that kids abstain from sex until they're mature — "until you're in a committed relationship. Until life is moving in the direction you want it to and your plans are moving in the right direction."

Much like Be the One, he asks their goals. Go to college? Become a doctor? Be a lawyer?

"If those are your plans," Siegel says, "and you get pregnant before you achieve them, then that's not sexually healthy."

The 10-year-old wants him to get to the point: "I still don't know how babies are made."


"Chaos theory." That's how researcher Brian Dodge sums up sex education in Florida. In November, Dodge and a team from the University of Florida released results of a survey about sex ed around the state. His team found that the education varied widely: The 479 teachers surveyed mentioned using 49 different curricula. Overall, Dodge found that sex ed is often introduced "deplorably late... and may not adequately address the realistic needs of students."

Sex education was introduced in schools in the 1960s and became the norm during the 1980s in response to the explosion of AIDS. But in Florida in 1990, the state Legislature passed a law requiring that schools "teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage." It's up to each school district to interpret that provision.

Federal funding to promote abstinence ballooned with the expansion of Title V of the Social Security Act, passed in 1996 as part of welfare reform under the Clinton administration. Now, federal money is disbursed largely through Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) projects. Be the One is the only program in Broward or Palm Beach that receives this money.

In fiscal 2006, Florida received $10.7 million in federal funds for abstinence programs. The state pitched in $3.5 million.

To qualify for federal funding, providers are supposed to adhere to eight guidelines — known as the A through H guidelines — that include teaching "that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of all human activity," that sex outside of marriage "is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects," and that "bearing children out of wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child's parents, and society." People who favor comprehensive sex ed find such assertions ludicrous.

Abstinence education came under attack after the release of several reports ordered by Congress. One found that "over 80 % of the abstinence-only curricula contain false, misleading or distorted information about reproductive health." Last April, a study by Mathematica Policy Research looked at the long-term effects of four abstinence programs and found that they "had no effect on the sexual abstinence of youth."

Naturally, abstinence proponents found fault with those reports and fired back with their own statistics. One analysis by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, asserted that for every federal dollar spent promoting abstinence, 12 are spent promoting contraception.

Then, this past December, the CDC announced that the teenage pregnancy rose 3 percent in 2006, following a steady 14-year decline.

Sixteen-year-old Brandy Smith offered a glimpse into the mind of a pregnant teenager. Smith says she once hoped to remain abstinent until marriage but took chances with her 21-year-old boyfriend because she was in love. "It wasn't just puppy love," she insists.

Smith knew about birth control. But she and her boyfriend thought a baby might even be nice. She didn't feel pressured at all. "He just made me feel so comfortable," she says.

The couple has since broken up but is on good terms. Now, the Department of Children and Families helps Smith rent a room. She'll get parenting classes and free daycare at Gateway High School. Big Brothers/Big Sisters — which helps pregnant girls as young as 11 — provides mentoring services. She hopes to be an elementary-school teacher one day.

Smith says that if she could talk to younger girls, she'd tell them, "Don't get pregnant at a young age. I would preach and preach that." She's bummed because, at eight months along, she is barely able to move. Her days consist of watching TV and taking buses to doctor's appointments. She won't be able to go to the fair this year.

Trying to explain the thinking of her peers, she says authoritatively, "If they want to have sex, they'll have sex. If they want to wait, they'll wait. But teaching them about safe sex is good. A lot of teenagers might use it. They really need to know."

The uptick in pregnancy has inflamed the debate about sex ed. In St. Lucie County, which has had its own problems with a rising AIDS rate, the School Board recently considered a comprehensive program that would include a field trip to buy condoms. That part of the curriculum was dropped after a public outcry led by a local pastor, but the program retained elements about condom usage. On January 8, state legislators introduced a bill called the Healthy Teens Act that would require schools to teach abstinence and contraception.

Brian Dodge, the University of Florida researcher, said his survey found that Broward was "the most progressive district in the state. Everyone should just move to Fort Lauderdale."

Bill Sydnor, Family Life and HIV/AIDS coordinator for the Broward County school system, takes that as a compliment. The district, he says, teaches "abstinence-plus," meaning that it covers contraception but stresses abstinence as best. Still, Sydnor says, no matter what any piece of paper says, class discussions can lead who knows where, and individual teachers have their own values. "It can be hard to ensure fidelity to the curriculum once that classroom door closes."

In addition to the classroom teachings, Sydnor says, most schools offer extra-curricular abstinence clubs as well as gay/straight alliances. Homosexuality is not in the official curriculum. "We say, 'If you engage in these behaviors, you are at risk.' "

Meaning, say, anal sex? "It does come up. People associate some of those behaviors with gay sexual behaviors, but some straight couples do it to avoid pregnancy or to maintain virginity."

If such topics are covered, why not define it as "comprehensive sex ed"? Sydnor explains that Broward doesn't demonstrate condoms, doesn't make them available, doesn't do HIV testing, and stresses abstinence first.

Broward's policy springs from necessity, Sydnor says. The county had the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the country in 2005. Sydnor hears of girls sleeping with boys six to nine years older, and students have reported offering sex in exchange for economic support. "We always say that the only way to prevent [STDs] is through abstinence. But we don't want to put them at risk because they haven't made that choice. I don't want to be responsible for withholding lifesaving information."

Sydnor adds: "Students say, 'Do you realize that if you don't give us this information, we will find it? You insult our intelligence and maturity.' If we have hope in young people, they will make good decisions. Some risks are just a part of growing up."

He thinks a lot of high school kids are grossed out by Tila Tequila. "We underestimate our youth."

Next door, in Palm Beach County, Fred Barths chuckles at some parts of the official human development curriculum — and he's in charge of it.

Although the curriculum — written in 1990 — is relatively thorough in regard to HIV and pregnancy, one fact sheet states authoritatively that "girls reach puberty at 11 or 12 and are expected to abstain from sexual relations until marriage at 21 or 22." Homosexuality is barely addressed, except in one handout that poses the question: "Do boys who look or act like girls usually become homosexual?" The seventh-grade textbook covers sex by saying, "Human development starts when a man deposits millions of sperm into a woman's vagina." There is little to differentiate it from a bank transaction.

Barths, the K-12 science administrator, acknowledges that "it's falling to science teachers to teach a more comprehensive form of human growth and development." Although he faithfully repeats the state's mantra on abstinence, he was recently warned by the Health Department about the rising pregnancy rate and cites a personal concern that kids are "constantly bombarded" with media that promote early sex. He is working on revisions to the official curriculum.

That could mean a looming battle ahead. Although Barths gets few complaints, the ones he receives are from people who "overwhelmingly didn't think sex should be discussed in schools at all."


A common criticism of comprehensive sex ed is that it introduces adult concepts to kids at a young age. To Ricky Siegel, that's misguided. "Even 3-year-olds know the difference between girl parts and boy parts."

Days before Christmas, Siegel is back at the Boys & Girls Club with a lesson built around a "teachable moment": the news just broke that teenaged actress Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant.

"She's 16!" a girl gasps.

"She's still a good person," another says defensively.

Someone mentions Tila Tequila.

"She's bisexual!"

Today's theme is about opening dialogues with parents, and it's a perfect example of how talking about sex with kids can veer into unpredictable territory. "Eighty-five percent of parents think it's important to talk about abstaining until you're older," Siegel says, offering them each a pamphlet they can give to their parents called "How to Talk to Your Children About Sex."

Siegel tells a cautionary tale about a girl from Coral Springs whose parents never discussed sex. The girl hid her pregnancy, and when the baby was born, she threw it in the Dumpster, where it died. "I don't want you to be scared to talk about sex," he says.

One girl, 10-year-old Brianna Dillard, takes that as in invitation. "I would like to know why people are homosexual," she states politely.

"Gay people don't choose to be gay any more than straight people choose to be straight," Siegel replies. He explains that people can't necessarily decide whom they get a crush on. "Some guys see Beyoncé — they don't say, 'Ooh, there's Beyoncé; I think I'll get turned on by her!' But they might start feeling like Jim Carrey in The Mask, where his eyes pop out of his head and his tongue rolls out on the floor."

"Oh yeah, how did Jim Carrey do that?" asks 11-and-a-half-year-old Caitlin Carmichael, a smiley blond.

Here, Siegel must detour to explain movie special effects.

"Was that the only movie he was in?" Carmichael wonders.

It takes Siegel a moment to steer the conversation away from Jim Carrey films.

Curious Brianna Dillard has another question: "Why do people have oral sex?"

Heads turn toward Siegel.

He admits that it might sound disgusting — the same way that kissing seems odd to small kids. "Why do people want to smoosh their lips together or put their tongues in each other's mouths? When you're 5, that's ridiculous!"

Siegel tells them that the most important sex organ in the body is the brain, and the largest is the skin. He tries to explain the concept of erogenous zones. "Somebody can lick another person's earlobe and it drives them crazy! It gets complicated, but the most important thing is the emotion behind it."

With that, time is up, but a few kids linger to give their opinions.

Ashley Johnson, 10-and-a-half, said she's been "kinda scared" to talk about sex. "My dad asked me one time, 'Are you ready to talk about the birds and bees?' and I said, 'What is birds and bees?' He said it's not just all about the organs getting together."

The organs?

Johnson said she was too shy to elaborate. Those organs.

Fresh-faced Brianna Dillard — the one with the rousing questions — said the class "makes me a little more comfortable talking to my parents." Well... maybe not Dad. It's easy to ask Mom about sex when it's on TV.

Are their peers having sex already? One student reports that "kids slap each other's butts." Another says couples sneak off during class to make out in the stairwell, where construction workers have been known to discover them. One girl has a cousin who got pregnant and kicked out of the house. Another's 13-year-old friend had sex with an eighth-grader. "She said it was good."

A confident 14-year-old named Deidre waves her hand dismissively. She's been in the TEEN program for years. "My friends and classmates talk, but they are so wrong. This one boy says erotic things like, 'I had three girls last night.' And I'm like, 'Yeah right. You can't even do multiplication.' "

Deidre had Be the One in sixth grade. She remembers only that "they talked about abstinence, and they made me write some credit card." She hopes to save herself for marriage and adds that because of T.E.E.N. Society, "I know what to do in a pressure situation."

A 15-year-old named Anthony said that in school, seventh-grade science addressed sex only in terms of clinical scientific discussions. He seemed to appreciate Siegel's helping connect all the dots. "He doesn't leave out the detail."

But isn't he a self-described "weird guy"? "No — he's down-to-earth," Anthony says defensively. "He's like a lifesaver. Maybe if somebody goes in the neighborhood, now they'll think twice before they get down to business."


Over at Lake Worth High School, Be the One educator Kristin Newman — a tall, pretty blond — is teaching kids about a chemical called oxytocin. Some researchers have found that oxytocin is released in the body during childbirth and sex. They say it helps people to bond.

Sometimes, when Newman gets to this point in the lecture, she will take two colors of Play-Doh and mix them together, illustrating that once you have shared oxytocin with someone, "you can't just take it out and have a completely clean start with a new person."

A footnote at the bottom of her slide reveals that her information is taken from the ideas of Eric Keroack, a former Mass­achusetts obstetrician/gynecologist who once ran the Division of Health and Human Services but was forced to resign under pressure. The Boston Globe newspaper dissected Keroack's theories and found them to be based on the work of other scientists. Those researchers overwhelmingly said that Keroack "misstated the findings" and distorted their work. One dismissed his assertions as "complete pseudoscience." (Asked about this later, Be the One's Beau Heyman said that many researchers have associated oxytocin with bonding and reiterated that the health department approved his presentation.)

Newman shows them a PowerPoint slide with the words "Know, Trust, Commit, Sex" and suggests that relationships pro­gress in that order. People can get to know each other — minus sex — with the "Three T's: Time, Togetherness, Talking. "What if you have sex with someone before you fully know them — and then it turns out they are going to steal our stuff? Or if they break up with us — they are going to be sharing that oxytocin with other people!"

Newman pulls up the statistics on marriage: The best environment for children is in a healthy family. Married people are less vulnerable to suicide. Married people live longer.

So shouldn't kids hurry and get married? No, she says, because teen marriage is the best indicator of the probability of divorce. Cohabitation's bad too — there's a 75 percent breakup rate! The point is to value one's self and wait. Instead, focus on goals. "We live in a microwave society," she says, where some sex is "fast and cheap" — like eating at McDonald's. Waiting to have sex until marriage, she says, is like enjoying a sitdown meal at Applebee's.

She ends the class with conviction: "The best and most fulfilling sex is in a healthy marriage."

Newman, 27, has never been married and never had sex. "I do believe in this, and I live by it," she says proudly.

As the class files out, health teacher Elizabeth Lopez said she considers Be the One to have the best presentation she's seen in her ten years of teaching. A girl beaming with admiration lingers to talk to Newman. A boy, Syed Ali, says the presentation "teaches how to make good choices and not make mistakes." He won't have sex before marriage, he says, because of his religion — and besides, he needs to focus on becoming a cardiologist.

During lunchtime in the courtyard, though, students' budding sex drives are visibly evident. A mature-looking boy and a big-chested girl, oblivious to stares, are clutching each other and demonstrating how the term sucking face might have come about. In a shadowy corner, one boy rubs up against a girl and nuzzles her ear. "No, you are not coming to my house after school," she purrs, sounding conflicted.

Nearby, three tall boys laugh at Be the One's message.

"Nobody's virgins," scoffs one, his boxers hanging out of his low-slung jeans.

"Not everybody's going to get married," another says. "Teenagers don't really wait until they're 30."

According to them, kids are having sex all the time and everywhere. They already know about condoms, "but not all girls like to use condoms, you know," says the first boy, raising his eyebrows knowingly.

"If somebody told me condoms didn't work, I wouldn't use it then," boy number three chimes in. "If a girl gets pregnant, then she gets pregnant, that's all," he says, as though it's the most casual thing in the world. "She could have an abortion or have the baby."

What if a girl they liked insisted on waiting until marriage?

"If a girl says we gotta get married, I just go to another one," says the kid in boxers.

What if you really loved her?

"Naw," he says.

But then he thinks for a second. "If I really loved that girl with all my heart, I'd probably wait," he says, cringing at the thought of having to. "But only if I really, really loved her."

That was on December 19. Two weeks later, Tila Tequila's show got renewed for a second season.

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