Abstinence education grant renewed for Palm Beach schools

No matter what happens on Election Day, abstinence education will (sorry, all you free-sex fans) go on. Be the One, an organization that gives weeklong presentations about sexual abstinence in Palm Beach County public schools, recently got word that its $3 million grant has been renewed. Be the One hopes to reach about 9,000 kids in 50 schools annually.

The money comes from a federal fund that was established under President Clinton and beefed up under Bush, calling for teaching "that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity."

Sex became a campaign issue when John McCain accused Barack Obama of wanting kindergartners to receive sex education. Although McCain's remarks were widely described as exaggerated, Be the One program manager Beau Heyman says that Obama supported the comprehensive sex-ed program offered by SIECUS (the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States). While those guidelines don't exactly show toddlers how to play doctor, he says, they do in fact call for children aged 5 to 8 to learn that "both boys and girls have body parts that feel good when touched" and that "touching and rubbing one's own genitals to feel good is called masturbation."

Thoughtful pause here.

Says Heyman: "Whether or not we should be teaching that to kindergartners — I think more parents would reject that notion."

Before people get too fired up about the old biddies taking over again, Heyman explains that his own lessons simply supplement the sex education curriculum that students receive in health classes — what Heyman calls "condom education."

"It never ceases to amaze me the blind faith that our society has in condoms," he says. "The three STIs that condoms are shown not to protect against are also the three most prevalent [HPV, herpes, chlamydia].  This isn't rocket science." And that, the 'Pipe says, is definitely a lesson worth learning.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Edmund Newton