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TO:                  Superintendents of Schools


FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:             August 9, 2004


RE:                   Clarification re:  “Character Counts in Maine


***** Please forward to School Principals *****


“Character Counts in Maine”, an organization that promotes “abstinence only” education, has just received funds to support and provide assistance to Maine public schools.  This assistance is in the area of “abstinence only” education and does not meet Maine’s comprehensive health education requirements or the requirements of Maine’s Learning Results in the area of health, family life, and the prevention and control of diseases.


Additionally, acceptance of “abstinence only” funds will limit local decision-making with regard to curriculum choices, as “Character Counts in Maine” funds will require you to exclude any instruction that does not have abstinence from sexual activity as its exclusive purpose.


We are contacting you to remind you, as you might consider the support of “Character Counts in Maine”, that although abstinence education is one part of comprehensive health education in Maine, that by itself it will not meet the comprehensive health education requirements.


Finally, we are pleased to share with you the very positive outcomes you have all achieved using a comprehensive approach to family life education within Maine’s school health education.


          Maine has increased its abstinence rate by nine points to 57% (2003 YRBS*)

          Maine has reduced its adolescent pregnancy rate by 45% to 4th lowest in the country

          One hundred percent of Maine high school health teachers teach about abstinence as the most effective prevention of pregnancy and disease (2004 SHEP*)

          The Centers of Disease Control state that 87% of Maine high school students are making responsible decisions about sexual behaviors (2003 YBRS)

          Maine has been cited as one of the three top states in providing sexuality education (SIECUS** 2004) nationwide


If you have questions regarding “Character Counts in Maine” and its relationship to Maine’s comprehensive health education requirement, please contact Joni Foster at 624-6686 / or Kathy Wilbur at 624-6696 /

* Maine Youth Risk Behavior 2003, School Health Education Profile 2004

** Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States