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Healthy Respect Media Release

Healthy Respect Revisits the Culture Wars

12/1/09 -- For one co-ed, classroom lessons apply to real life situations

For the second straight year, Healthy Respect's top executives addressed a classroom of New York University students, making a case for authentic abstinence education against the claims of a spokesman for a condom-based sex-education group.

The debate took place Nov. 16 as part of the regularly scheduled class of an NYU undergraduate course called "Culture Wars." Professor John Zimmerman, who arranged the debate before his class of 120 students, said that the debate was a model for how opposing views on sensitive cultural issues can be discussed with civility.

"I had several students waiting for me at my office afterwards, and all of them raved about the class," he wrote in an e-mail. "One of the questions we ask in the course is whether - and how - Americans can engage in civic discourse across our differences. Thanks for providing a great model for how that can (but rarely does) happen."

Speaking for Healthy Respect were Dr. Nanci Coppola, Executive Director, and Mr. John P. Margand, Esq., President of the Board of Directors.

Kurt Conklin, representing SIECUS, presented the case for comprehensive sex education, including the use of condoms. (SIECUS stands for Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.)

"I kept going back to the scientific evidence that supports authentic abstinence education," said Dr. Coppola. "One of the students asked if I would change my mind if condoms were 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, which they absolutely are not. I said that even if condoms worked all the time, there would still be emotional issues involved in teen sexual relationships that condoms cannot protect you from."

She stressed that authentic abstinence education is based on character development, academic achievement and long-term goal setting, rather than simply saying "no" to sex.

Mr. Margand observed, "Any questions that came up, Dr. Coppola was able to address them with scientific, hard fact answers, which I think impressed the students. The students were very open and had a very positive attitude about what we were saying. I think it was new information for a lot of them. I was very impressed with how respectful and thoughtful their questions were."

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.

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