Charlottetown. In April, the Charlottetown Rural High School (CRHS) chapter of Home and School persuaded the provincial Federation to reject a nationally distributed AIDS education video.
AIDS & YOUTH: A Document for Parents is based on the safer sex approach to AIDS education. It is Health and Welfare Canada’s response to the findings of Dr. Richard Beazley’s national study on Youth and AIDS – questionable findings, some say.
It is promoted by the National Federation of Home and Schools Associations.
The CRHS Executive objected to the video’s inaccuracies and inappropriate approach to a truly life and death issue. Their action was supported at a public meeting on May 16, called following hints that their view was unrepresentative.
Catherine Mullally, CRHS Home and School president, outlined some concerns about AIDS & YOUTH:
“This video promotes the myth of the inevitability of teen sexual activity. It seriously misleads and misinforms people about the degree of protection provided by condoms. It teaches deviation as the norm, and the norm as deviation.”
She also rejected the video’s repeated admonitions: Parents, don’t be judgmental.
“We parents have acquired some wisdom and good judgment. That’s why we don’t give our children choice about brushing their teeth, or taking baths. Yet when it comes to instructing them about AIDS, a matter of life and death, we’re asked not to impose our judgment.”
An alternative video, AIDS: Learn and Live, was also shown at the public meeting. In the view of CRHS Home & School executive, its approach (promoting abstinence) and its contents are more acceptable. The majority of those at the meeting (one third of whom were men) agreed.
Afterwards, the videos were discussed by a panel consisting of Dr. Robert Blackwood, a family doctor; Isabel Christian, the province’s coordinator of the family life education program; and Mrs. Mullally, all hammering on abstinence as the only real solution.
University student Catherine MacDonald, 23, of the Canadian Youth Pro-Life Organization (CYPLO), spoke passionately about the importance of teaching chastity as a positive approach to life. “Telling us ‘abstain, but here’s a condom just in case’ doesn’t help us. It confuses us,” she said. And Gay Garvey, CYPLO’s adult adviser, spoke about how warmly teens accept the challenge of chastity when it is well presented.