June #82 : School for Scandal - by Suzy Martin

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Kiss & Gel

Odd Boy Out

Pain Killer Pain

Gravest Show on Earth

Enemy at the Gate

How to Parent

On the High Wire

Party Politics

PACHA Gotcha

Waste Product

Three Wise Men

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School for Scandal

B Sting

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Fly by Night

All the News That's Fit to Zip...

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Clean Screen



Asimov As He Was


Tricks of the Trade

Cunning Linguist

Editor's Letter


Bloodless, Still Gutsy

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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June 2002

School for Scandal

by Suzy Martin

Christina Hernandez says that she was shocked by opposition to the op-ed she penned for a special "prom" issue of Pep o' Plant, the student newspaper of Plant High School in Tampa, Florida. "I never said, 'Distribute condoms at prom.' I said that they should be available.... and if you need one, you can take one," said the 18-year-old senior, smoothly stressing that she would prefer her classmates take Plant's sex-ed abstinence vow. David Webb, the paper's advisor, had signed off on the piece. But Principal Eric Bergholm balked, stopping the presses for three days to ponder reprinting the pages sans the "Face It: Sex Happens" op-ed and an accompanying survey of four students and the school security officer. (Yep, the kids were pro condom, but the cop voted nay.)

In the end, freedom of the press won out at Plant High, allowing Hernandez to escape the fate of nearby Blake High's 2001 valedictorian, Lissette Stanley, who was 86'd from her commencement speech as punishment for her safe-sex activism. "Stanley defied her principal's directions by surreptitiously slipping condoms into the prom gift bags along with the photo album and candle," said school-district rep Mark Hart. "She engaged in civil disobedience." No Thoreau, Hernandez graduates from Plant this month with the farewell wish that by September the administration will make condoms available through a nurse. Fat chance, says Hart. "We don't feel it should appear that we're promoting premarital or teenage sex.... This is a relatively conservative community."

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