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From the urban dictionary:

  1. abc gum

Already been chewed gum. Typically found under desks in school

When I was about six years old, I asked a friend who was enthusiastically chomping the pink stuff: hey ... got a piece of gum? She reached into her mouth, flashed an evil grin and brandished the spit-soaked wad in my face:

"Sure. Hope you don’t mind that it’s Already Been Chewed."

Setup ... spike. From that point forward, I did what any sensible American kid does. Upon requesting a piece of gum on or at any occasion, I’d qualify with "and not ABC, pleez!" It’s just a basic hygiene issue that we all learned at an early age in the playground.

Under the Bush administration, faith-based initiatives are all the rage. Grants flow, pitting playground wisdom against the Bush agenda on abortion and other social issues. As a result, your child may be chewing ... ABC gum.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, the Rockville Pregnancy Center, a crisis pregnancy center alleging expertise in human sexuality and disease prevention, sent its representatives to several county high schools to pressure students into taking turns chewing the same piece of gum:

"It was fine for me, because my best friend and me did it first," said Julia Bellefleur, 15, a Damascus High School sophomore who participated in the exercise. "But it was kind of gross for everyone else. I was just glad I did it first."

Administrators and school board members learned of the demonstration early last month, after a parent complained to the principal of Poolesville High School, and swiftly revoked the group's permission to speak in schools. One or more speakers from Rockville Pregnancy Center had visited Damascus, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill high schools and possibly others. Clinic speakers had been approved to visit schools since 1998; students said the speaker told them she had taught the same lessons many times.

Disclosure: I graduated from Winston Churchill, and I am thanking my lucky stars that I did so before 1998. My mouth is clean.

Just imagine how mortified the principal of Albert Einstein HS in Kensington, MD must have been to have to send this letter out to parents:

Dear Parents/Guardians:

I want to inform you of an incident that occurred January 8 in your child's comprehensive health education class. It has been brought to my attention that an outside speaker encouraged students to chew a piece of gum already chewed by other students in the class. I have learned that the intended purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate to students the power of peer pressure and to use it an analogy for transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

I am appalled and aghast that someone would do this as part of an educational presentation. This exercise was inappropriate and unsanitary and it should not have occurred. I became aware of this exercise just yesterday when I was notified by central office staff.

As a result of this incident, the outside group that made this presentation is no longer approved to send speakers into any classrooms in Montgomery County Public Schools.

The larger question is: how did these 'speakers' get into the public school classrooms in the first place?

Let's briefly review what we know about crisis pregnancy centers. Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D, CA-30) report, Federally Funded Pregnancy Resource Centers Mislead Teens about Abortion Risks describes how Crisis Pregnancy Centers disseminate false or misleading information to teens:

Pregnancy resource centers, which are also called "crisis pregnancy centers," have received over $30 million in federal funding. The new report assesses the scientific accuracy of the information they provide. Female investigators, who posed as pregnant 17-year-olds seeking advice about an unintended pregnancy, telephoned the 25 pregnancy resource centers that have received capacity-building funds from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Twenty of the 23 centers reached by the investigators (87%) provided false or misleading information about the health effects of abortion.

  • The centers provided false and misleading information about a link between abortion and breast cancer
  • The centers provided false and misleading information about the effect of abortion on future fertility.
  • The centers provided false and misleading information about the mental health effects of abortion.

They typically locate their centers near abortion clinics to intercept women potentially seeking abortion services and in the vicinity of high schools to target teens with their misinformation campaigns. Frequently, the centers are faith-based, with an arbitrary dividing line between evangelical outreach and 'medical' function to enhance opportunities for funding via state and federal programs.      

From the Washington Post article:

Rockville Pregnancy Center describes itself as a nonprofit, licensed medical clinic and pregnancy counseling organization. One part of the site quotes extensively from the Bible and offers a test "to see if you're going to Heaven."

 

A local blog claims that the following are requirements for Rockville Pregnancy Center volunteers:

  • Must have attended all classes.
  • Must be a committed Christian who is willing and able to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.
  • Committed to the belief in the sanctity of human life.
  • Must complete the next available Post-Abortion Bible Study if you’ve had an abortion.
  • Must be able to volunteer 3-4 times a month during our counseling hours. You select the shifts you are able to work for your convenience

The Rockville Pregnancy Center is an affiliate of Care Net, an organization that claims over 950 affiliated evangelical pregnancy centers after a merger with Sav-a-Life in 2005, and touts "committment to marketing positive pregnancy options and the compassion of Christ more effectively than Planned Parenthood markets death."

These are the folks that Montgomery County Public Schools allowed into classrooms to conduct bizarre and unsanitary demonstrations in the name of sexual health education.

CPCs now outnumber abortion clinics -- a result of a highly organized, heavily funded effort with increased access to (some) state-level and federal programs in the form of abstinence-only funding, ultrasound purchase assistance, and even for 'pregnancy support and reproductive health services' .

Altogether, local antiabortion and crisis pregnancy centers have received well over $60 million in grants for abstinence education and other programs, according to a Post review of federal records.

In a Dec. 12, 2002, executive order, Bush addressed one of the major concerns of religious groups considering applying for public money. Bush declared that religious groups receiving federal grants would not be required to comply with certain civil rights statutes, and could discriminate by hiring employees of specific religious faiths.

Concerned supporters and parents of students in Montgomery County, MD have organized to

We are here to support a 21st century sex education curriculum for MCPS students. While continuing to stress the importance of abstinence for teens, we support a new curriculum that will expand upon the old one by providing our students with current knowledge about how to protect themselves, based on the latest science and advice from the medical and scientific communities. Also, based on mainstream science, we support a new curriculum that recognizes that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that homosexuality is not a disease.

RCP promotes itself as "the only Montgomery County Public School approved abstinence-based program," undoubtedly the vehicle that legitimized their presence to conduct an experiment that not only ignored basic scientific and medical guidelines, but flies in the face of playground wisdom.

Originally posted to kindertotenlieder on Sun Feb 11, 2007 at 02:06 PM PST.

Poll

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