LONDON, April 4, 2002 ( – Sex education advisors in East Sussex have lobbied schools against repeat performances by a Canadian pro-abstinence youth group. The Canadian Challenge Team, an Ottawa-based volunteer youth group which travels the world presenting a positive message for chastity till marriage, was “mystified by and disappointed” by the Sexual Health Forum’s disapproval of their work.

After Challenge Team presentations at eight schools last year, the Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) team for East Sussex – part of the Government’s Sexual Health Forum, circulated a letter to all schools “in order to preclude visits to East Sussex schools by this team, or any similar groups, in the future, as it was considered they were unsuitable”.

Rebecca Visser, one of the leaders of the Challenge Team, told LifeSite that despite the PSHE letters, at least four of the schools have rescheduled Challenge Team presentations this year.

The Telegraph reports that abstinence teaching, which is growing in popularity in America does not find favour with British bodies such as the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Unit, or the Sex Education Forum, part of the National Children’s Bureau. Its report, Just Say No – To Abstinence Education, says: “Children and young people are entitled to a balanced educational programme of sex and relationships education . . . Abstinence education falls short of this established good practice and fails to meet the needs of children and young people on a number of counts.” These include “fear-based” messages and an exclusion of “big groups of young people, including those who are gay and lesbian”.

Visser told the Telegraph that the Challenge Team said it had spoken to more than 600,000 teenagers throughout North America and Europe since it was founded in 1993. “We are not anti-sex, nor are we trying to scare kids away from sex. But our message is that chastity is a positive, realistic and healthy lifestyle.” She explained further to LifeSite that the “organization exists to educate students about a sexual option many of them have never heard of before – chastity. Chastity is a lifestyle of respect for sexuality, sexual self-control, and saving sex for marriage. We believe this to be a healthy choice, both for the physical and emotional well-being of young people.”

See the coverage in the Telegraph at: