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AIDS Guide Asks Parents to Teach Sexual Restraint

October 06, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A guide to AIDS education issued today by the Department of Education urges parents and teachers to teach children that sexual restraint is both a virtue and the surest way to avoid the disease.

The guide, reflecting the position that Education Secretary William J. Bennett has championed in a dispute with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, emphasizes that "condoms can and do fail." Koop has advised sexually active people to use condoms as a way of lessening the risk of getting AIDS.

Now, each man has had a pamphlet published outlining his position.

About 300,000 copies of the Education Department's 28-page booklet, "AIDS and the Education of Our Children: A Guide for Parents and Teachers," will be mailed to school principals, school boards, presidents of parents' groups and other educators.

But that is only a tiny fraction of the 45 million copies of the pamphlet "What You Should Know About AIDS" that the Public Health Service plans to distribute through employers, health departments and community organizations.

Bennett told a news conference that the emphasis on morality in his guide "is not moralizing. It is realism."

"This handbook affirms that in the education of the young, moral instruction is a key ally in the effort to protect their well-being," Bennett said.

He said the best advice for parents of sexually active teen-agers is to "do everything in your power to discourage" that activity.

When asked if schools should teach that homosexuality is wrong, Bennett replied that they should teach the "straightforward facts" that homosexuality is "the most common mode of transmission" of AIDS.

The Bennett guide does not say when children should be given all the specifics about AIDS, but says, "Ordinarily, in the schools, this would be a part of sex education, which generally begins in junior high school."

Koop has said that specific instruction about AIDS should start as early as the third grade.

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