Day of Purity promotes sexual abstinence among teens

February 13, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Today the red hearts and pink sweaters worn by the love-inclined for Valentine's Day will be met by those in white shirts, showing support of the first National Day of Purity.

Feb. 13 has been dubbed by some a National Day of Purity to encourage youths to abstain from sexual contact before marriage and to educate them with what organizers call shocking statistics on the rise of sexually transmitted disease.

Local supporters say the growing number of sexually active youths grabbed their attention and concern, and prompted them to spread the word about the new observance.

"Look at how many of your young people are being affected by teen pregnancy and diseases," said supporter Georgia Brenda, chief deputy in the Lincoln County Property Valuation Administrator's office. She first brought the idea from a radio announcement to her boss, David Gambrel, county PVA and pastor of Kings Mountain Christian Church.


"I'm a minister, beside being PVA, and constantly I see young people, because of STD's or teen pregnancy, are denied their chance to reach their potential," said Gambrel.

According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services, in 1999 the pregnancy rates for teens ages 15-19 had fallen by 18 percent, though the rate of African-American teen pregnancies was still greater than their white counterparts by more than half.

The cabinet estimated that one in eight teens contract an STD each year, with Chlamydia being reported more often than any other infectious disease in the country.

Organizers of the event hope to reduce these statistics in Kentucky and nationwide.

The national event is sponsored by Liberty Council, a non-profit defense organization created in 1989 to defend religious civil liberties and traditional family values through litigation in state, city and individual cases.

The council's Web page states, "In today's culture, students are bombarded with the message that they should become sexually active at a young age and to experiment with their sexual preferences. The Day of Purity offers the youth who strive for sexual purity an opportunity to stand in opposition to a culture of moral decline."

Lincoln County High School, local churches planning observances

Lincoln County High School and several local churches have been made aware of the day by Brenda and are planning observances of their own.

High school nurse Alisa Slone and the teen leaders of Postponing Sexual Involvement, sponsored by the county health department, recognized the Day of Purity at the school during morning announcements today. Judge-Executive Buckwheat Gilbert was on hand earlier this week to make a proclamation of recognition.

District Health Coordinator Eva Stone said such abstinence programs are an effective way for students to talk about their convictions. She estimates the countywide teen pregnancy rate has fallen more than 20 percent in recent years.

"Plus, when we have teens that are dedicated to what they believe in, we need to give them the opportunity to promote positive behavior," said Stone.

Some organizations did not hear about the event in time to schedule guest speakers, print pamphlets or order T-shirts, but Brenda expects today to prepare for next year's observance.

"Given this is the first year, we're just trying to get the word out ... I would like to see it grow, the whole program be done with guest speakers, and the media could be involved."

Gambrel also will continue to show support for the program, not as PVA but as a minister and concerned parent of a future teenager.

"When anyone is denied the opportunity to achieve their potential, we all lose," said Gambrel. "I'll do anything I can to support it. Our teenagers are our future."

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