School administrators in Wake County, N.C., have removed most references to gay men and lesbians that were added in a sex-education update, but they say they are not backing down from promoting tolerance. Parents of students in grades seven through nine soon will get letters inviting them to review the curriculum before deciding whether to let their children attend classes that begin in mid April. The Wake school board in November voted 5-4 to add more instruction about contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases, the effects of teen pregnancy, and tolerance for gays and lesbians to the curriculum. The course emphasizes sexual abstinence until marriage. Since then, administrators say, they have strengthened the lessons and removed inaccuracies found by a medical review panel. They say they weren't trying to mollify critics who said Wake was promoting homosexuality.
"Nothing has changed with our stance in this plan," said Cindi Jolly, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "We made changes to improve the curriculum."
The board in November stopped short of the changes sought by advocates of a comprehensive sex-education curriculum that would provide more information about subjects including the proper use of condoms and the nature of homosexuality. Critics objected to new language approved by the board about tolerance of people with different sexual orientations, contending that it would promote immoral behavior.