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The Education of Loudoun Parents

Hatrick Encourages Parents to Get Involved with Sex Ed

Stone Bridge High School senior Erika Palacios said she learned about sex just like the rest of her peers — television, friends and her family and life science classes.

"My parents and I don’t talk about sex," she said. "I never had the sex talk with my parents."

Virginia mandates all state public schools teach a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum, which Loudoun County Public Schools does, but last year the school system invited Christian comedian Keith Deltano to give his "abstinence-only" comedy act at Loudoun County High School in Leesburg and Dominion High School in Sterling.

Kathy Hawes, president of Mainstream Loudoun, a nonprofit civil rights organization, brought Shelby Knox, a spokesperson for comprehensive sexuality education, to Loudoun Friday, March 8, in an effort to shed equal light on comprehensive sexual education.

"It’s a pretty timely thing," Hawes said. "It’s a good chance to open up dialogue and protect our children."

Shelby Knox, a senior at the University of Texas, is the subject of a documentary about comprehensive sexuality education versus an "abstinence-only" approach to teaching sexuality education in schools, titled "The Education of Shelby Knox."

Knox was a high-school student in Lubbock, Texas, when the documentary took place. Knox, a devout Christian who pledged abstinence until marriage, became the poster child for comprehensive sexuality education when she realized the abstinence-only approach her school took wasn’t working. Knox said it wasn’t uncommon to see several girls walk through the halls with pregnant bellies.

"If somebody doesn’t tell them, they’re going to experiment. And that’s their education," Knox said.

The program, "What’s So Scary About Information? An Evening with Shelby Knox," talked about the importance of providing teenagers with all of the information about sex, rather than the "abstinence only" approach.

SUPERINTENDENT Edgar B. Hatrick, who attended the interactive presentation, encouraged parents to get involved with their children’s education, especially when it comes to sexuality education.

Since the early 1990s, Hatrick said the school system has made the family life science curriculum available to parents at the beginning of the year, at the Administration Building in Ashburn.

A large number of parents turned out for the program when it first came about in the early 1990s, Hatrick said, but the number of parents continues to drop year after year.

Hawes agreed with Hatrick, "It is important to stay current, know what’s going on in all of your children’s classes."

Hawes is the mother of a third-grade boy and a sixth-grade boy. She said she worries about what is being taught to them about sex.

"I want them to know all of the facts," she said.

Jessica Hinojosa has attended Loudoun County Public Schools since kindergarten. The Stone Bridge High School senior said she feels confident about her knowledge of sex.

"I’ve been learning about sex since elementary school," she said. "Every year we’d get a little more information about sex. And now, I’m learning about the consequences of having it."

Hinojosa, like Palacios, said she never had "the talk" with her parents.

"Maybe it’s a cultural thing," she said. "We just don’t talk about it."

HAWES SAID she was pleased with the overall turnout, about 70 parents and teens, at George Washington University’s Ashburn campus.

It’s important to stay on top of what our children are learning in our schools, she said.