A group that had its abstinence education program barred by the state of Rhode Island after a complaint from the local ACLU, says the civil liberties group is spreading half-truths and distortions.
Heritage of Rhode Island, which produces a curriculum called “Right Time, Right Place,” says the ACLU has falsely claimed a video in its program makes specific references to “a relationship with Jesus” and other faith-based issues, reports Agape Press.
In a news release, the Rhode Island ACLU said, “Programs like Heritage of Rhode Island subject students to an abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum that is both ineffective and harmful. Teens need information on how to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and STDs – they don’t need sex education riddled with inaccuracies and gender stereotypes.”
Heritage Executive Director Chris Plante, however, charges the ACLU has spread “misinformation” and has “not accepted any of our invitations to set the record straight.”
The Rhode Island Department of Education recently ordered the state’s public schools to stop Heritage’s abstinence curricula, Agape Press said, after the ACLU complained it violated the First Amendment’s clause prohibiting Congress from making a law establishing a religion.
Plante contends, however, the ACLU is confusing his group’s video with a “Christian school version.”
“We use a video called ‘No Apologies,’ which is published by Focus on the Family,” he said, according to Agape. “When they originally did the video, they did two versions – one for public schools and one for Christian schools. We use the public school version.”
Plante said it’s unfortunate the ACLU allowed “prejudice based on misinformation” to “direct their attack on the abstinence message.”
He notes that since last September, the ACLU has been engaged in a national anti-abstinence campaign in which it has accused federally funded abstinence programs of being “based on ideology and religion.”
“It is becoming clear that the ACLU is more interested in promoting their agenda than ensuring that teenagers receive a balanced message that includes abstinence,” he said. “When the ACLU couldn’t find any religious teaching in our programming, they bent the truth to fit their national platform.”
Plante believes the Rhode Island ACLU saw a reference to the “No Apologies” video in Heritage’s lesson plans and then, rather than checking the facts, simply made the assumption Heritage uses the Christian version of the video. However, he insists that is not true.
Plante pointed out the curriculum producer agreed to an “Assurance of Compliance” with federal standards prohibiting the integration of faith-based content in its educational materials.
“We strive to work with integrity,” Plante said, according to Agape. “By law our programming and materials must not include sectarian instruction, prayer, worship or proselytizing. Any institution we work with must understand that neither party can address abstinence from a faith perspective during our presentation.”
Heritage is calling on the ACLU to “retract its false claims in the same manner they were initially proliferated.”
“The time has come to put ideology aside,” Plante said, “and to begin a dialogue between all concerned with protecting children from the consequences of risky sexual activity.”
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