Cumberland County, NC
The Cumberland County School District removed 27 high school juniors from a college health class because the class violated district and state abstinence-only-until-marriage policies. The students were enrolled in classes in the Cross Creek Early College program, which allows them to take classes at Fayetteville State University (FSU) for college credit.1
The University described the course, Health and Wellness, as covering personal and community health. One of the subjects discussed in the course is safe sex—which includes discussion of contraception. Both North Carolina state law and the district’s federal funding mandate for sexuality education require a focus on abstinence and allow only those discussions of contraception that focus exclusively on failure rates.2
The students’ high school principal was told of the curriculum’s safe sex component by a health professor at FSU. After talking with district officials, she decided to remove the students from the class because of the abstinence policy. She also was concerned that the class consisted of older students as well as the high school juniors. She said, “I think a discussion about safe sex among 15-year-olds is potentially a different discussion when there are 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds and possibly 40-year olds in the room.”3
According to the principal, some students were disappointed to leave the class because they enjoyed it and thought it was fun. She emphasized, however, that the students would remain in other interesting and thought-provoking academic classes at FSU4
While the principal referred to safe sex as “far beyond” the maturity of the juniors,5
the superintendent of the school district said that he did not think abstinence-only sexuality education is a good idea.6 Nevertheless, he emphasizes the need to be “realistic” about the difficulty of changing the abstinence-only curriculum, and said he supported the principal’s decision.7
The students have been put into a study hall or are tutoring other students. They will be taking a health course online.8
- Andrew Martel, “Sex-ed talks end for early college class,” Fayetteville Observer, 10 October 2007, accessed 10 October 2007, <www.fayobserver.com/article?id=274560>.
- Myron Pitts, “Editorial - Please abstain from this absurdity,” Fayetteville Observer (NC), 14 October 2007, accessed 16 October 2007, <www.fayobserver.com/article?id=274930>.
- Martel, “Sex-ed talks end.”