Anne Neamon says you call tell high school students all they need to know about sex in two sentences: "Sex is under the sight of God, and it is a lifelong commitment."
Neamon, founder of Citizens for God and Country, says Fairfax County school officials would violate both those principles by expanding the schools' sex education program.
Fairfax County began wrestling with the issue of sex education three years ago. Now, after a school-sponsored survey indicating that 70 percent of parents support an expanded program, officials are considering a more extensive program.
When the issue first arose in 1977, conservative opponents of the plan protested loudly -- forcing the school system to hold 44 public hearings on the plan and to adopt what school administrators described as a "watered-down version" of the orginal proposal.
Fairfax County's sex education program has been described by educators as a "basic anatomy course." Less than 2 percent of the students take the course, which forbids the mention of subject such as birth control, homosexuality, abortion, masturbation, incest and rape. Students are not permitted to ask questions during class, but must submit inquiries to the teacher on a 3 by 5 index card. If the teacher decides the question deals with a "safe topic," it is discussed during the next class session.
In the three years since the program was adopted, opponents have lost none of their fervor. As soon as the results of the recent survey were made public, opponents rolled up their sleeves and prepared for a new battle with school administrators.
Nor have school officials forgotten the power opponents wielded three years ago. In fact, say several school administrators, opponents of the sex education program appear to be preparing to "mount a stronger attack than (in 1977)."
Those opponents range from Virginia Right to Life to Motorede (the Movement to Restore Decency), a committee of the John Birch Society, to Neamon's Citizens for God and Country. Others include the Fairfax County Taxpayers' Alliance, which opposed sex education three years ago after arguing that the cost of such a program outweighed its need, and members of Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant congregations.
The various groups seem to have several things in common: their membership is usually small; they generally hew to a conservative line; they insist that any program must include a strong emphasis on Christian values, and they know the fine points of lobbying.
"My impression is that the groups are well organized," said one school official, who like several others asked not to be identified for fear of being "targeted" by conservative groups. "But they represent a small number of people."
Despite the similarities of the various groups, there are differences.
Perhaps the most radical are Motorede and Citizens for God and Country. In fact several members of other conservative groups say that although they are opposed to sex education, they are not anxious to be associated, even in this battle, with Motorede or Citizens for God and Country.
"We in Right to Life have many members who are liberals but who are opposed to abortion," said Mary Ann Krietzer, who said she is a member but not a spokesman for the group. "We surely don't share the same beliefs as those groups."
Mary Finnerty, president of Virginia Right to Life, said her organization is opposed to expanding the sex education program because, as proposed, it would be "anti-family."
"They will be teaching the children about things which, in most cases, are contrary to the beliefs of the parents," she says.
At a school board meeting several weeks ago, where opponents dominated the speakers list and asked the board to drop plans for revising the program, Finnerty presented petitions signed by 10,000 people opposing the program.
The number of people Motored and Citizens for God and Country represent is in dispute. Neamon's organization has never incorporated and does not have any membership, and Motorede claims a mailing list of only 200 in Northern Virginia. However, there is little question that these organizations have the ability to apply a great deal of pressure.
"Whenever anyone breathes the word sex education,' these people are all over the place," said a school official, who like many others said he was constantly being contacted by both groups.
Elizabeth Burch, head of Motorede, and Neamon say they work almost full time trying to further their beliefs. They write thousands of letters to public officials and newspaper editors, speak at public hearings and contact other conservative and religious groups.
Both Motorede and Citizens for God and Country blend religious and patriotic fervor. They say the move to initiate sex education in public schools is part of a conspiracy by Communists who plan to overrun the country after destroying the morals of America's children. They accuse such groups as the United Nations, the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington and the National Education Association of having Communist origins.
In the schools, Motorede and Neamon want to see a return to prayer, the teaching of the Biblical theory of how life started and a revision of textbooks to promote "good ole Americanism." Basic to all of their positons is a belief that America should officially declare itself a Christian nation.
Burch, of Motorede, contends that the abolition of school prayer was an early victory for Communists infiltrating America. Sex education, she says, is another. "They always say sex education is going to reduce the incidence of teen-age pregnancy and venereal disease," says Burch. "But they can never show a single incident where that happened.
"Then they argue that if you don't teach sex in the schools they'll learn it in the gutters. I say, 'great' then they'll know that's where it belongs -- in the gutter."
Neamon espouses many of the same opinions as Motorede, but takes a slightly different approach -- basing most of her beliefs on the theory that the founding fathers never intended a separation of church and state, but rather wanted to avoid promoting any one Christian denomination.
How many other -- if any -- people Neamon represents remains a mystery even to the school and county officials who she lobbies regularly. She claims to be self-financed, has never formally incorporated and lists her address as a box number in McLean. While she says she speaks for thousands of people, Neamon admits there are no other members in Citizens for God and Country -- although she calls herself the national coordinator of the organization.
A constant theme of Neamon's campaign for restructing American society and its schools is the role of Jewish citizens. Neamon says only Christians should be allowed to hold public office in the U.S. and that Jews should be barred from seats on the Supreme Court. And she believes that Christian values should be a part of every public school students's education. c
"We're a nation founded on Christian principles," she says. "Israel is structured to preserve the Jewish religion -- the state schools promote the Jewish religion. Our state schools should be promoting the Christian religion."
Neamon maintains that the other purpose of public schools should be to foster patriotism -- even if it means rewriting the history texts.
"I didn't know the United States snatched Texas from Mexco until I was in college," she says. "When students are young they don't need to learn about bad things the country has done. Children have a right to a childhood."
Despite the renewed opposition to sex education, school administrators say they are determined to go ahead with plans to review the program.
School board member Ann Kahn, who helped draw up guidelines for the staff to follow, said last week that all sides of the sex education debate will be heard.
"Regardless of which, if any changes take place, parental permission (to take the course) will still be required," said Kahn. "We want to be sensitive to the desires of parents who don't want their children taking the course."