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Students Suspended for Protesting District’s Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Policy

Wood River, IL

Two students were suspended for “insubordination” and violating the dress code after wearing shirts proclaiming “Safe Sex or No Sex” to Lewis and Clark Junior High School.

The 14-and-15-year-old duo wore the homemade tank tops with condoms pinned to them in protest of the district’s abstinence-only-until-marriage policy. The pair planned their protest after two other students were suspended for having condoms—one pinned it to her arm, the other had it in her purse. The two young women were removed from school for two days for refusing to change the shirts.

Administrators say they were concerned that younger students would see the shirts, and believed the attire disrupted the educational environment.1  The superintendent also said the students had the opportunity to voice their concerns in their once-a-month character education classes.2 

He confirmed that the school sponsors an abstinence-only program—an annual speech by a guest speaker—and displayed no interest in adding additional information.  “If we were to get into safe-sex education, it would look like we’re condoning that 11- to-13-year-olds are having sex, and we absolutely do not condone that,” he said.3

The young protestors disagreed as did many of their peers.  “They should be teaching us safe sex instead of abstinence, because it happens,” said one of the protestors. “And if we’re going to have sex, be safe about it.”4  The other explained “Most of the students are on our side. They saw me on the news and they all applauded me. They’re happy someone actually decided to take a stand.”5


  1.   Elizabeth Donald, “Wood River students suspended over ‘Safe Sex or No Sex’ shirts,” Belleville News Democrat, 8 February 2008, accessed 13 February 2008, <>.
  2.   Ibid.
  3.   Ibid.
  4.   Jasmine Huda, “Students Suspended For Wearing Controversial Shirts,” (IL), 6 February 2008, accessed 7 February 2008, <>.
  5.   Ibid.