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|NUMBER 173||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||JUNE 2000|
Reprise of Abstinence |
Rally a Rousing Success!
CHICAGO, IL - The abstinence education organization Project Reality made a classy, splashy statement for sexual abstinence in April, hosting REALITY CHECK 2000. Held in Rockford, Illinois on April 10 and at the University of Illinois' Chicago Pavilion on April 11, the event was the second such celebration of abstinence from sex, drugs and alcohol. Nearly 10,000 teens from more than 85 (mostly public) schools attended the Chicago rally, up from 8,000 students and 67 schools at the first event in November 1998, while the Rockford rally drew 3,000 cheering students.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, an enthusiastic supporter of the first event, attended this year's rally as well, offering his full support to Project Reality's effort to reduce sexual activity and substance abuse among teens. "Mr. Vallas was so excited about this program that he suggested we hold a Reality Check 2000 in each of Chicago's six regional districts as soon as possible," said Project Reality Director Kathleen Sullivan.
Attendees from across the country are hoping to replicate the event in their home states. Darrell Green of the Washington Redskins, for example, is seriously considering hosting a rally in Washington, DC next fall.
The fact that 10,000 local schoolchildren and a variety of popular celebrities and sports figures gathered to champion the cause of abstinence did not merit the attention of Chicago's major media. They chose instead to cover a ceremony naming a street in honor of Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner. "Many thousands of teens cheering for abstinence is a clear message that Mr. Hefner's lifestyle in no way appeals to the next gen-eration," notes Mrs. Sullivan. "They've seen the results of the Playboy mentality and are starting a new sexual revolution - one that promotes responsibility, respect and commitment."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sexually transmitted diseases account for 87% of the most frequently reported infections in the U.S. This alarming statistic has led many to urge sexual abstinence as the only guaranteed way to avoid transmission of STDs, but CDC funds continue to support sex education programs that fail to emphasize abstinence until marriage (see Education Reporter, May 2000).
Project Reality is a national leader in the field of adolescent health, providing abstinence instruction programs to over 50,000 Illinois students annually.