Parents at Renfroe, 4/5 schools raised concerns about abstinence-only speaker

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 26, 2013

Parents at two Decatur city schools have a few questions about “The Talk.”

Questions about the Oct. 1 event prompted school officials to send a letter to parents distancing themselves from the nonprofit group giving “The Talk.” In addition to the letter that went out to 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue, Renfroe Middle School Principal Principal Derrick Thomas also sent a letter clarifying that the school doesn’t endorse the event. 

“The Talk,” set for Oct. 1, is hosted by Speaking Words of Absolute Truth, a.k.a. S.W.A.T. The abstinence-only sex education initiative is sponsored by “A Beacon of Hope,” a religious nonprofit.

“The parent concerns have been around the organization’s religious affiliations and philosophy regarding teen pregnancy,” CSD spokeswoman Heather Borowski said.

Beacon runs the Pregnancy Center of Decatur and Johns Creek. I reached out to the event organizer for S.W.A.T. and she sent me a polite email saying they were working on a response. As I noted yesterday, the after-school event is voluntary to attend. S.W.A.T. is renting the space at Renfroe.

The email Thomas sent to Renfroe parents on Sept. 20 says, “It is my understanding that many of you have received an invitation from an organization promoting a seminar called ‘The Talk’ to be held at Renfroe Middle School. Some have shared concerns regarding the affiliations of the organization and its appropriateness for our school. Please know that this is not a Renfroe Middle School sponsored event. Renfroe is renting  our facility to this organization in accordance with the City Schools of Decatur’s Facilities Rental Policy. Again, Renfroe is not endorsing nor promoting this event.”

(Editor’s note: Text in bold is my emphasis.) 

I reached out to Thomas and he told me he wanted to make sure parents knew the event isn’t affiliated with the school.

“Many thought the school endorsed the event, but we didn’t,” Thomas said. “Merely renting space.”

I asked for parents of the schools to contact me and someone from Renfroe responded. The parent asked to remain anonymous in order to talk candidly about concerns parents had about “The Talk.”

“The issue is that the event was marketed (for free) in CSD school newsletters (Renfroe and FAVE),” the parent told me. “By including ‘The Talk’ announcement in these newsletters, it was inferred that ‘The Talk’ (sponsored by an organization with a very clear agenda) was a Renfroe-sanctioned event, not just an event being held at Renfroe.”

I’m still interested in more perspectives on this. Are parents satisfied with the school’s explanation? Is anybody planning on going to this event? Please let me know:

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Karen

    Renting out school space is one thing. Promoting events that are not affiliated with the school and do not benefit the school is another. The school tying themselves to this event by promoting it made an ill-informed decision. They certainly seemed to be stamping their approval on whatever message “The Talk” is trying to send.

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