When Jami Waite graduated from high school this year in this northeastern Texas town, her parents sat damp-eyed in the metal bleachers of Bobcat Stadium, proud in every way possible. Their youngest daughter was leaving childhood an honor graduate, a band member, a true friend, a head cheerleader ”” and a steadfast virgin.
“People can be abstinent, and it’s not weird,” she declared. With her face on billboards and on TV, Ms. Waite has been an emblem of sexual abstinence for Virginity Rules, which has risen from a single operation in nearby Longview to become an eight-county abstinence franchise.
For the first time, however, Virginity Rules and 700 kindred abstinence education programs are fighting serious threats to their future. Eleven state health departments rejected abstinence education this year, while legislatures in Colorado, Iowa and Washington passed laws that could kill, or at least wound, its presence in public schools.