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|NUMBER 166||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||NOVEMBER 1999|
GOLF, IL -- The abstinence-centered education organization Project Reality has
welcomed as spokeswomen two successful competitors in the Miss Illinois beauty
pageant. Both competed on platforms promoting sexual abstinence until marriage.
Erika Harold, the reigning Miss East Central Illinois 1999, was 4th runner-up at the 1999 Miss Illinois Scholarship Pageant and received the states community service award for her work with her platform, "Teenage Sexual Abstinence: Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself. " Miss Harold is an honor student and Chancellors Scholar at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she is a pre-law student majoring in political science.
Maggie Johnson, who won the Miss Mississippi Crown for the Illinois region near the Mississippi River, is a recent graduate of Millikin University in Decatur and holds a degree in sociology. Her platform for the pageant was "Youre Worth Waiting For: Promoting Self Esteem and Sexual Abstinence."
These young women will continue speaking out to youth on the importance of remaining a virgin until marriage. They will assist in planning Project Realitys next abstinence youth rally, called "Reality Check 2000," to be held at the University of Chicago Pavilion next spring. Project Realitys first "Reality Check" in 1998, featuring celebrity guest speakers, attracted 8,000 Chicago-area youth. (See Education Reporter, Jan. 1999.)
Miss Harold believes strongly in her message because "it empowers youth to make beneficial life decisions. Our culture is doing youth a disservice in making them think that premarital sex is advantageous," she explains. "I like to give kids a positive message from someone who is practicing the abstinence lifestyle."
Maggie Johnson takes a similar approach. "A lot of teens have sex because they think it will give them self esteem or make them popular," she notes, "But the opposite is true. Abstaining from sex prior to entering a loving marriage gives a young person the freedom to experience true self esteem, while freeing him or her from sexual diseases, a pregnancy too early in life, or a broken heart."
Project Reality Director Kathleen Sullivan believes Erika and Maggie are the wave of the future. "Role models are emerging among young people at the start of the new millennium who may spark a new type of sexual revolution," she observes, "one that encourages respect, responsibility, and genuine romance. The fact that these lovely, confident young women not only know the importance of reserving the marital act until marriage, but were willing to make abstinence their platform in the Miss Illinois Pageant, is very refreshing."
A third pageant contestant, Tara Bollinger of Belleville, also chose abstinence as her platform for the competition.
Tara, Erika and Maggie all finished in the top 10 in Illinois. Nationally, 19 contestants for statewide beauty pageant titles competed on platforms promoting sexual abstinence.