Letters To The Editor

Posted: July 08, 1991

SEXUALITY PLAN FOR SCHOOLS GETS MIXED REVIEWS

How can we teach children to say no to sex when Philadelphia's school board says "yes, yes, yes"?

The deadly AIDS virus is infecting a larger percentage of the population worldwide than previously predicted, according to recent reports, and I must express deep concern that the weapon being put into school children's hand by the Philadelphia school board will be a condom. We only hope that the children will have more sense than their superiors by being informed on abstinence. It is up to decent, caring parents to know where their children are, whom they are with and what they are doing. These same parents must stress abstinence education in all school and church programs and especially in the home.

Joan M. Brown

Holland, Bucks County

IMPLEMENTATION IS THE ACID TEST

The Philadelphia School District's effort to establish a program for meeting the consequences of adolescent sexuality was never expected to achieve a result that would have unanimous support. But it is an outstanding example of excellent planning with a process that included representatives of all

viewpoints from all segments of our community. Everyone had maximum opportunity to contribute ideas and opinions.

Our genuine concern must be the method by which this necessary health program will be implemented. Can school district officials explain how they plan to do this while significantly reducing the availability of guidance counselors to students in middle and senior high schools? The plan to establish a ratio of one counselor for each 500 students should raise an alarm for parents and others who want adolescent students to have qualified professional help when they need advice for their personal problems.

With the new program, the school board should be hiring additional counselors. It is regrettable that it has chosen to eliminate the positions instead.

Lawrence Herlick

Philadelphia

DESTRUCTIVE DEPRAVITY

Recently, the Philadelphia Board of Education passed a resolution to distribute condoms to public school children. The decision was outlandish, violating student rights and transgressing parental authority.

Those who supported this atrocious decision tried to justify their action

because they are well intentioned, i.e., trying to lessen the probability of contracting the AIDS disease by sexually active teenagers. This type of shallow thinking, while admittedly well intentioned, is very dangerous.

With many of the prohibitions that nature provides against illicit sex removed by having condoms freely available, sexual activity among students will increase even further. Unrestricted sexual activity and promiscuity have long been recognized as a form of depravity that destroys the social order and eventually society itself.

Sexual promiscuity is the medium that is exposing these students to AIDS in the first place. Increasing promiscuity violates all reasonable thinking as the means of providing safety to the children.

Monica Forkin-Porrini

AN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM

Thank you and Claude Lewis for having the courage to applaud the school board's decision on condoms in the June 26 issue.

As the parent of a teenager, I also support and applaud the school board. What many people seemed to have overlooked in all the debates was that the board was recommending educational programs, including abstinence. The problems that we face now are not simple yes or no answers, and the school board realized that.

While I wish that teenagers would practice abstinence, the reality I see is that many do not. Those adults who refuse to accept that reality and insist that abstinence is the only answer are only condemning our youth to a very possible death sentence.

Debra Szumowski

CONTEMPT FOR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

In the 1960s, citing the possibility that even one child who was an atheist could be made to feel uncomfortable about his beliefs, the Supreme Court outlawed school prayer. This rule applied even to those who wanted to pray in school.

Recently the Philadelphia school board approved a plan that includes distribution of condoms in the schools and a mandatory sex education curriculum. The proposal was firmly opposed by the Roman Catholic archdiocese and the black clergy. Surely this policy will have a negative effect on Catholic and black Christian students whose beliefs are at odds with parts of this program and who will be made to feel uncomfortable. Their religious beliefs will be actively undermined and contradicted by the school board's new sex policy.

It is the law of our land that we must respect the religious beliefs of each citizen. By its action, the school board has demonstrated contempt for the religious beliefs of those opposed to this amoral policy. There is no legal or ethical justification for the school board to trample on the freedom of religion and usurp parental authority over our children's moral development.

This offensive policy has no place in the schools.

Ted Meehan

Newtown Square

*

(Editor's note: The school board's policy specifically allows parents to exclude children from any condom distribution program.)

U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS NOT IN PERIL

Having recently read their book, The Coming War with Japan, I was not surprised to read the unfounded speculations made by George Friedman and Meredith LeBard in "Is the United States headed for another war with Japan?" (Commentary Page, June 7).

Any analysis of the contemporary Japan-U.S. relationship must take into consideration the entire spectrum of benefits derived by both nations. Messrs. Friedman and LeBard's claim that the strong Japan-U.S. alliance has been solely to combat the Soviet threat ignores the tremendous benefits in various important areas, i.e., security, economic, social and cultural, that both nations gain from their increasingly close partnership.

The Japan-U.S. security alliance itself has a much broader mission; it is the security cornerstone for the entire Asia Pacific region. Moreover, Japan provides substantial funds for the maintenance of U.S. bases in Japan, more than $3 billion in 1991, or $60,000 per American service person. No other nation so strongly supports American military presence.

Messrs. Friedman and LeBard neglect the enormous economic benefits the United States derives from its close ties with Japan. In 1990, our bilateral trade amounted to an enormous $138 billion - 20 percent of all world trade. Japan now consumes more American goods, per capita, than America consumes of Japanese goods, and has, in fact, become the largest overseas customer for American imports - purchasing $50 billion of U.S. goods and services annually. Furthermore, Japan is often considered Americas' most important source of industrial goods, financing and new manufacturing technology. These inputs are essential to a strong America.

The authors also overlook the unprecedented growth of cultural and social interchange between the peoples of Japan and the United States. During the 1980s, the number of people traveling between Japan and the United States doubled. By 1989, 3.8 million Japanese and Americans were traveling between the two nations. This exchange of people has promoted greater appreciation of each other's culture. Sushi and Nintendo have become as much a part of American culture as Madonna and McDonald's have become a part of Japanese culture.

Beyond the direct advantages afforded Japan and the United States through our bilateral relationship, our global partnership is critical to the entire world, especially the developing nations. As the world's two largest aid donors, Japan and the United States provide $9 billion and $7.7 billion respectively in official development assistance. Together, we foster democracy and economic growth throughout the world.

Messrs. Friedman and LeBard's claims are so unfounded that they divert the focus from the true benefits of the vital Japan-U.S. alliance. In providing an objective perspective, it is hoped that the reader will develop an accurate picture of our alliance referred to by former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Michael Mansfield as "the most important bilateral relationship, bar none."

Seigi Hinata

Japanese Deputy Consul General

New York

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