Two St. Louis-area 9th graders, Tori Shoemaker and Cheyenne Bird, 14, were suspended from their Illinois junior high school for wearing condom-bedecked t-shirts proclaiming "Safe Sex Or No Sex" as a way of protesting their school's abstinence-only education policy. Shoemaker, 15, told a local TV station, "We were supporting safe sex, it's something we believe in and we shouldn't get suspended. It's freedom of speech." The school superintendent, however, found the shirts "inappropriate" and "a distraction at school". Shoemaker and Bird's school, Lewis & Clark in Wood River, Illinois, teaches abstinence only to sixth and eighth graders, and Shoemaker thinks that safe-sex education is imperative for teens entering high school. "We're more mature, we're going up to the high school, and teenagers are going to do what they do," Shoemaker explained to a reporter from KMOV TV.
According to a non-profit website called The Institute For Youth Development, the state of Illinois is required by law to teach sex ed about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, but it is not required to teach about abstinence or contraception.
Even though the junior high brass isn't budging — they have no plans to revise their abstinence-only curriculum — the girls' parents are supportive. Vic Shoemaker, Tori's dad, told reporters: "I'm realistic, I'd like to see them not do it at all before they get married, but look at all the teenagers coming up pregnant."