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Awesome Awardee: W. Va. Student Who Stood Up For Separation Wins Prestigious Scholarship

This blog is often the bearer of bad news – we may report about a public school district trying to teach creationism, an attack on LGBT rights by a Religious Right group, an effort by a large and powerful church to secure tax funding for its private school system, etc.

But today’s story is good news. It may, in fact, even warm your heart a little.

Let’s set the stage a bit: In April of 2013, a senior at George Washington High School in Charleston, W.Va., was dismayed after school officials invited a speaker to come in and talk about “God’s plan for sexual purity.”

Sex (Mis)Education: ‘Abstinence-Only’ Programs Still Fail Public School Students

John Oliver is a comedian; his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, is satirical. But this week’s episode highlighted a real problem: Flawed sex education in public schools.

“There is no required standard for sex ed in this country,” Oliver pointed out. “In fact, only 22 states mandate that kids receive it, and only 13 require that the information presented be medically accurate.”

It’s a sorry state of affairs – “a weird patchwork system,” to quote Oliver – and it exists largely because of the Religious Right.

Sex Scandal: Brave W. Va. Student Challenges Inaccurate Sexuality Lecture

Recently I had occasion to talk with Ellery Schempp, the plaintiff in the landmark 1963 school prayer and Bible reading case Abington Township School District v. Schempp. The 50th anniversary of that ruling is in June, and we’ll have a story about the case in the forthcoming May issue of Church & State.