Foes of sex-ed play to plan strategy Emphasis on chastity sought

December 13, 1992|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Opponents of a controversial sex education play shown in Harford County high schools will try to devise strategies today to convince school officials to consider alternatives that emphasize abstinence.

"We are not a minority, as some have called us, but the majority of parents," said Nancy Jacobs, president of the local chapter of Concerned Women of America, a conservative political group.

Mrs. Jacobs and other parents want AIDS education programs that stress abstinence to get the same amount of time as the sexually explicit play "Secrets."

These parents would also like parts of "Secrets" edited to remove references to "protected sex." The play, performed by young actors, includes candid talk about AIDS, as well as condoms, homosexuality, bisexuality and premarital sex.

"Secrets," produced by Kaiser Permanente Health Systems, has won the support of the school board and the executive committee of the Harford County Council of PTAs. The council, made up of PTA groups from county schools, has compiled surveys from parents and students who have seen "Secrets."

"We surveyed parents who have seen the play, and 4-to-1 supported it," said Andre Fournier, president of the council. Students overwhelmingly support the play, he said.

Mrs. Jacobs said she wants to compile her own surveys. She said a group of opposing parents had planned to watch the play at Aberdeen High School Thursday.

But "Secrets" was canceled when some play materials were vandalized inside a Kaiser Permanente van parked in Bethesda, said Al Seymour, a school system spokesman.

Aberdeen is the last place the play is scheduled to be shown in Harford during this school year. The play will be rescheduled for Aberdeen students in January, Mr. Seymour said. "Secrets" has been shown at Joppatowne High School, North Harford High School and Bel Air High School.

Mrs. Jacobs has been distributing information about today's meeting at local churches, but did not want to identify the meeting's site. She said she did not know how many churches have participated.

The sheet of paper she distributed asks parents and others who opposed "Secrets" to write letters to the school superintendent, Ray R. Keech, and members of the school board. Parents are also asked to attend tomorrow night's school board meeting to support sex education that promotes abstinence.

Anne Sterling, school board president, said the board decided against putting "Secrets" on its agenda at its December meeting. "What we don't want is to be put in the position of voting on the play, or any issue, until we have heard both sides," she said.

Last year, the school board ruled the play could be seen only by students in the 11th and 12th grades who have a parent's written permission.

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