"You can't imagine how challenging it was to do in a way that respected the intelligence of teens," Weschler says. "All I can say is, I will never be a politician."
Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, takes the line that better-informed teenagers make better decisions: "Time and again," she says, "research has shown that giving information to adolescents about reproduction and sexuality will not lead to promiscuity and will only arm teens with information that they need whenever they decide to become sexually active."
But Janice Crouse, senior fellow at Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, disagrees. "I think it is inappropriate. Instead, I think that we need high ideals for our teenagers, to teach them the value of self-control because those are disciplines that you need for your whole life. Providing this type of information says that teenagers are hostages to their hormones."
"Any time you give young people information, there is the potential for them to misapply that knowledge," Lukas says, "but that is not a reason to warn people away from this book."
The founders of the religious right, now in the twilight of their leadership, see even the suggestion of expanding the agenda as a dangerous distraction. In public, and sometimes in personal ways, they are trying to beat back the challenge.