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Abstinence Speaker Canceled In Teton County


The Teton County School District canceled presentations by a Christian abstinence speaker this week after some in the community objected. Shelly Donahue was scheduled to speak with 8th to 12th graders in Jackson. Donahue identifies as Christian and promotes abstinence in her approach to sex education. That upset some students and parents.

Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center in Jackson approached the school district with the opportunity to have Donahue speak with students.

Charlotte Reynolds is the Information Coordinator for Teton County School District says parents were notified last Friday afternoon, and the classroom programming was promptly canceled that following Saturday morning.

“With feedback and reaction from some in the community, it was determined that allowing Turning Point to use a school facility for the evening presentation only was a more appropriate direction.”

Reynolds also says this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

“We often have outside organizations who will reach out to us and offer presentations, speakers, various opportunities that may have value to our student body population and this program was in that vein.”

In fact, Donahue already spoke in Teton County once before. It was during the 2014-2015 school year when she was invited by Summit High School. Donahue was invited along with Teton County Public Health and a speaker, Jeff Bucholtz, from the Community Safety Network.

Wyoming does not require its students to receive any sex education in the K-12 curriculum. Right now, Teton County uses an approach to sex education that concentrates on preventing sexually transmitted disease and unplanned pregnancy. 

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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