Planned Parenthood is changing the format of Nobody’s Fool, a controversial sex education program for youngsters held one day a year at the Waco Convention Center. The organization now will offer workshops at the invitation of groups.

Staff photo— Jerry Larson

Planned Parenthood is changing its controversial Nobody’s Fool sex education workshop, choosing to offer it year-round to groups that request the program instead of holding a single daylong session during the summer for youngsters entering grades five through nine, Planned Parent confirmed Monday.

Spokeswoman Natalie Kelinske said the new approach actually represents an expansion of Nobody’s Fool, which began locally 24 years ago and has served as a model for other programs that encourage abstinence, promote parent-child communication and deliver information about sexuality.

“We immediately will move forward with the program, which is now based on requests from churches, community centers and homes,” Kelinske said. “This will no longer be a single event, but rather represents an effort to work with partner organizations wherever a group of young people need serving.”

But John Pisciotta, director of Pro-Life Waco, called the announcement “cause for celebration” and a victory for those who oppose abortion.

“No, I’m not buying the claim this is an expansion of Nobody’s Fool. They’re just trying to make this appear as positive as possible,” Pisciotta said. “Nobody’s Fool is a hallmark program, not only in Waco but in other parts of the country. The local Planned Parenthood was among the first, if not the first, to sponsor this one-day event.”

He thinks changing the format of Nobody’s Fool “was not an easy decision for them to make.”

Pro-Life Waco and Planned Parenthood have a history of clashes, with abortion protesters regularly gathering near the group’s clinic on 
Ross Avenue.

In 2004, Pro-Life Waco launched a protest of Girl Scout cookie sales, noting that Waco’s Bluebonnet Council of Girl Scouts had sponsored Nobody’s Fool for years and in 2003 named the former executive director of Planned Parentwood in Waco, Pam Smallwood, among its “Women of Distinction.”

Cookie sales actually increased in response to the protest, Pisciotta said, but later the local Girl Scout affiliate severed ties with Planned Parenthood in Waco.

Kelinske dismissed any notion that Planned Parenthood bowed to pressure in scrapping the annual event at the Waco Convention Center.

“We see this as an opportunity for growth, to meet participants where they are,” Kelinske said. “I think what’s really important is that this is a growing program with the goal of providing information the young people in our community need to remain safe and healthy.”

She said the organization hopes to attract at least 200 young people to workshops throughout the year, which is about the number who attended the event last year.

Relevant subjects

Kelinske added in a statement that sessions will focus on subjects relevant to young teens and preteens: puberty, dating, relationships, avoiding peer pressure and postponing sexual activity.

The goal, she said, is preventing sexual abuse, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The organization’s educational programs, she said, “are funded by
generous community supporters.”

She said Planned Parenthood is launching a new program titled Talk First, or Hable Primero in Spanish, to educate parents about discussing sexual issues with their
children.

“Because young people who talk with their parents about sex are more likely to postpone having sex and make healthier decisions about sexual behavior, our parent education program is an effort to increase communication between parents and youth,” Kelinske said in a statement.

Pisciotta said Planned Parenthod’s methods and points of emphasis disqualify it as a trustworthy provider of sex 
education.

“It makes money off sexually active teens,” Pisciotta said. “They performed more than 17,000 abortions from 1993 to 2011, but they try to give the impression that’s no big deal. The whole industry tries to make it appear that (abortion) is simply part of our culture.”

He added, “To think this organization has anything at all to do with abstinence . . . that’s not what it is about at all.”

Pisciotta said the demise of Nobody’s Fool “was not a total surprise since the program has been on life support.”

He said Pro-Life Waco volunteers counted 63 young people entering the convention center last year to attend the event, not the “hundreds” Planned Parenthood claimed.