Times-Picayune (New Orleans) (10.26.03) - Tuesday, October 28,
Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, spoke to an audience of about
2,000 middle and high school students, teachers and advisers
at the Ponchartrain Center in Kenner, La., on Oct. 20 on the
value of virginity. She appeared at the fall regional
conference of the Governor's Program on Abstinence, one of
five speaking engagements on the GPA conference tour of the
Harold, 23, said she has abstained from sex, a decision she
made as an Illinois high school student. She has been speaking
to students about her decision since age 18, and she said
deciding to wait to have sex empowered her as she watched
fellow high school students suffer the emotional scars and
consequences of premarital sex.
She told the audience that choosing abstinence is courageous
and, "It's something that can change the world."
Dan Richey, state coordinator of the abstinence program, said,
"We think the time has come for abstinence. It represents the
new sexual revolution."
Dr. Dee Burbank, medical director of the program, noted that
sex can spread STDs, including HIV, and can crush the dreams
of teens who get pregnant. She cited statistics about the part
alcohol plays in 75 percent of first-time sexual encounters,
and said that STDs have increased from 1 in 300 Americans in
1970 to 1 in 4 having at least one such disease today. Burbank
held up a condom and joked about its ineffectiveness against
The GPA offers schools a 12-week curriculum, holds four
statewide events a year, and conducts regional and national
seminars in Washington, D.C.
"Not too many programs teach students about abstinence," said
Lauren Jones, 17, a senior at Xavier Preparatory School in New
Orleans. "It's a good idea to hear that there still are people
who stay abstinent before they get married."