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Healthy Respect Media Release

Healthy Respect Enters NYU 'Culture Wars'

7/10/09 -- For one co-ed, classroom lessons apply to real life situations

Addressing a classroom of New York University students, Healthy Respect's top executives made a case for Authentic Abstinence Education while countering the claims of a spokesman for a condom-based sex-education group.

Held late last semester, the classroom discussion was the first event in which Dr. Nanci Coppola appeared publicly as Healthy Respect's newly appointed Executive Director.

Also speaking was Mr. John P. Margand, Esq., President of the Board of Directors.

"Overall, we engaged in a very civil discourse on the topic, and I do believe that the students walked away with a much better idea of what Authentic Abstinence Education is really about," Dr. Coppola said after the event. "The students were respectful and engaged in the discussion. I think we did a good job of helping them to understand that Authentic Abstinence Education has a place in the public school setting."

The discussion took place within a regularly scheduled undergraduate class called "Culture Wars," which is part of the curriculum of NYU's School of Education.

Mr. Patrick Malone from SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) presented condom-based sex education as the best way to teach students in public schools and criticized what he called "abstinence-only" sex-ed.

Healthy Respect engaged in the classroom discussion as part of its mission to inform students, educators, community groups and parents about the benefits of Authentic Abstinence Education.

Making the Case

Dr. Coppola and Mr. Margand pointed out that "abstinence-only" is a misleading term since programs like Healthy Respect are about much more than saying "no" to sex. Authentic Abstinence Education programs are about saying "yes" to a better physical, emotional, academic and financial future, they pointed out.

Such programs help students build confidence and self-esteem, set reasonable goals, avoid the negative consequences of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy, and plan for successful life.

Countering the claims of SIECUS's Mr. Malone, Dr. Coppola said:
1) Condoms do not protect effectively from all sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While they offer very good protection against HIV and pregnancy they do not offer good protection against STIs that are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact
2) Healthy Respect is not a "fear-based" program and does not present sex as a shameful act. Rather, the Healthy Respect curriculum describes the power and delicacy of the reproductive faculties and stresses that the sexual act, because it is not just physical but primarily emotional, belongs within the confines of a mutually monogamous long-term relationship such as marriage.
3) The program is not only for heterosexual students since Healthy Respect teaches that NO TEENAGER SHOULD BE ENGAGING IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY, regardless of sexual orientation, due to the potentially harmful effects.

Finally, countering the claim that abstinence programs are a thinly veiled attempt to bring religion into the public school classroom, Dr. Coppola pointed out that no one at SEICUS has ever claimed to have reviewed the Healthy Respect curriculum, and that federal guidelines preclude using funds for abstinence programming to teach religion.
"We always welcome an opportunity to present our case in the public forum, especially because abstinence education is so often misunderstood and misrepresented," Dr. Coppola said. "It was especially satisfying to talk with bright college students who will be tomorrow's leaders."