AIDS tape spurs tough inquiry from parents


Mary Ervin said she did not come to the school board to criticize the AIDS education videotape, "Secrets."

But Ervin, a member of the parents organization CARE-MD, said she did come to criticize what she believes is a lack of communication between the school system and parents when it comes to showing controversial films.

"Parents should have been told the video showed how to properly use a condom by using a banana," Ervin said. "Parents should have known there would be a question-and-answer session afterward where any question could be asked. I don't think an assembly is the proper place for a discussion on oral sex or bestiality."

Ervin told Board of Education members at their Monday night meeting she viewed "Secrets" at two high schools -- Arundel and Glen Burnie -- and was told the videotape would be shown to students at Old Mill Middle North.

While letters were sent home to parents giving them the option of withdrawing their child from the showing of the videotape, Ervin said no information on the program's content was included.

Dennis Younger, director of curriculum for county schools, countered the portion of the tape showing the proper way to put on a condom was less than two minutes long; he also said the same demonstration has been shown on television. Younger said the videotape was selected because of its emphasis on abstinence.

Ervin said she also was upset the film had not been reviewed by the board and the school system's curriculum committee.

But Younger said the review procedures allow individual schools some flexibility in deciding which materials can be shown to their students. Younger said the videotape had been reviewed two years ago and was endorsed by a committee made up of faculty, health officials and a parent.

Since AIDS is taught in county schools as a communicable illness and not as part of sex education, the videotape was reviewed by the health review committee and not the curriculum review committee, Younger added.

Student board member Miecha Werwie said she saw the videotape in school and thought it was one of the best AIDS education films she had ever seen.

"Some parts of it were a little iffy," Werwie said. "The main point was that the only way not to get AIDS is not to have sex."

In other action Monday, the board was given a report from the African American Curriculum Audit Committee calling for more emphasis on the works of Africans and black Americans.

"I have struggled with a curriculum I felt exclusive," committee member Barbara Bragg said. "It excludes many people."

Bragg, a Meade High teacher, said much of the school curriculum introduces Africans as slaves, and does not portray Africans' long history before their enslavement.

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