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OFFICIAL CALLS SEX-ED REVISION `FINE-TUNING'

The revision of the controversial sex-education resource guide for parents and high-school teachers, including the addition of abstinence-based values, will be a fine-tuning, not a wholesale rewrite of the manual, the state Board of Education chairman says.

Keith Checketts sees the editing as part of the normal process of getting the guide ready to distribute to high school teachers and parents."If this happened in the history curriculum, everybody would look at it as part of the normal process," he said of the revision.

He added, "Some people are afraid it's going to be watered down and that references to body parts and other things will be taken out. That's not going to happen."

Checketts spoke in a telephone interview Wednesday after Utahns Concerned with Adolescent Pregnancy sharply criticized the state school board's latest action involving the resource guide.

Last week, the board dismissed the broad-based committee of health and education experts who wrote the guide and hired Wayne Brickey, an LDS Institute teacher at Utah Valley Community College, to add abstinence-based values to the guide. Additionally, the state Office of Education employee who worked with the committee was reassigned to other duties.

"We feel the public's trust has been ignored and violated," said coalition spokeswoman Sandra Adams.

At a news conference, Adams said the state school board is ignoring public support for the guide. At last summer's public hearings 80 percent of those who testified said they supported the guide.

"How much more time will be spent on completing the text that is so urgently needed by teachers and parents? In order to combat the problems surrounding adolescent pregnancy, educators and parents must first understand the facts and factors, its prevention, the effects and how poverty is often a consequence of adolescent pregnancy," Adams said.

Jane Edwards, executive director of the YWCA, called it a travesty that another barrier has been placed before the guide's distribution.

Karrie Galloway of Planned Parenthood said although she doesn't completely agree with the guide, it is a workable compromise by a respected committee of diverse people.

She said the committee stated clearly that abstinence is the best way to prevent teenage pregnancy.

"I'm real disappointed and angered at this point that we've dismissed the committee and now need to go back and infuse more value to these adult guides," Galloway said.

Adams said the people of Utah need answers to several questions. They include: How much longer will the development of the guide take? How much is it costing taxpayers? How was Brickey selected?

Checketts said while he understands the concerns of the critics, he believes the criticism is premature. The committee's work was "marvelous" and that is what the guide will essentially be, the chairman said. But when the board accepted the guide, members agreed that the sections on abstinence weren't as strongly worded as others and needed some reworking, he said.

He challenged the critics to compare the completed revision to the draft accepted by the board at its December meeting. It won't be a major rewrite, he said.

Checketts said he hopes the editing will be completed quickly, perhaps within the next month. Brickey, who is working on a doctorate in morals and values, was hired upon the recommendations of board members John Covey and Grant Hurst, who were acquainted with him, the chairman said.

The school board chairman said he doesn't know how much the guide has cost to date, but he thinks Brickey will earn less than $2,000 for the revision. All expenditures over $2,000 must be approved by the school board, and Brickey's proposed fee has not come to the board, he said.