The county school board will reconsider a videotape extolling the virtues of chastity even though the tape has been rejected three times by an organization charged with reviewing material for the Family Life Curriculum.
Following an impassioned and often humorous speech from a member of the South County Council of the Knights of Columbus, board members voted yesterday to have the school system's media center review the videotape, "A Talk With Molly Kelly on Teens and Chastity."
"Our generation was no different from the generation of today," said 68-year-old Edward McCormick. "I can remember smooching with the girls. I can remember my glasses steaming up."
Citing more than 1 million teen-age pregnancies a year nationwide and the threat of AIDS, McCormick said he does not understand why his organization's offer to purchase copies of the videotape and donate them to the school system was rejected.
"We're not demanding it be made part of the curriculum, but we thought it should be shown to show the other side of the coin," McCormick said. "All the kids see (on television) today is hours and hours of sex. They're given the message that sex was put onthis earth to give them something to do on Friday and Saturday to not make it so boring."
The videotape was rejected for several reasons, none of which had to do with its content, said Executive Directorof Curriculum Dennis G. Younger. Younger said the countywide Family Life Advisory Committee rejected the videotape three times because itdid not present a cross-section of racial groups, and it was too long.
The videotape, which shows Kelly talking to an all-white student audience, is broken into two 30-minute segments.
Anne Young, a member of the countywide advisory committee, said members did not believe students would be attentive to the hour-long presentation.
"(Kelly) would be a fantastic speaker, but the tape was very long and boring," Younger said. "And, the school system does have other textbooks and materials to discuss abstinence."
But McCormick said his teen-age grandchildren had watched the videotape with great interest. Hesuggested a panel of teens be allowed to view the videotape to determine if their classmates would find it boring.
Younger said teens are included on the committees that review the materials for the Family Life curriculum.
Student Board member Miecha Werwie said she had viewed the videotape with her mother and with friends and did not find it boring in the least.
"When we were watching the tape we didn't think about minority representation," Werwie said. "We didn't think about it not being live. I found it very interesting. I found her very funny. I think there is a lot different in what adults see and students see."
However, board member Nancy Gist, one of two black members on the board, said the racial makeup of materials used in instruction is noticeable and important to many.
"The grouping does make a difference to many of us," Gist said. "I can leave this meeting every time and tell you how many people there are here who look like me."
When taking the Family Life program, Werwie said she did not find that abstinence was taught as strongly as birth control methods.
"What I remember from my Family Life class is, this is how you use a condom, or this is how you get birth control," Werwie said. "We endorse abstinence, but I'm not sure the message is getting through. The focus on abstinence is not as bold or out there.
"Honestly, I can tell you it disgusts me how freely students are out there having sex. A lot of adults don't believe what's going on out there. It's incredibly horrible. We're taught abstinence but there's always that 'but clause,' " Werwie added.
Still, Werwie acknowledged that there are students who do not practice abstinence and require the "but clause," lessons on safe sex as well as chastity.
In addition to askingthe media center to review the videotape, board members also voted to endorse three of four videotapes and two software programs for the Family Life curriculum. The fourth videotape was rejected because of the lack of minorities included in the presentation and the overt advertising by the sponsor of the videotape, Mennen Co.