SEASIDE — Despite increasing protest against a statewide Adolescent Sexuality Conference that meets annually in Seaside, the Seaside City Council will not cancel the conference’s 2015 contract with the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.
“On the advice of legal counsel, the council is taking no further action” involving the conference, said Mayor Don Larson following a closed executive session Monday night.
The executive session was called to discuss the city’s legal responsibilities in allowing the conference to be staged at the conference center, which is owned by the city.
Larson and other council members would not comment further on the consensus reached in the executive session.
Sponsored by the Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force, the conference is meant to assist educators and parents in discussing sexuality with their children and students. However, a group called “Parents’ Rights in Education” claims that students attending the conference may be encouraged to commit illegal acts through the distribution of sexually explicit materials and graphic workshops.
Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin called the conference a “giant petri dish” or a breeding ground for potential criminal activity. But District Attorney Josh Marquis has said his office will not get involved unless there is evidence of illegalities.
Several members of Parents’ Rights in Education attended the council meeting. Following Larson’s statement, they said they would continue to fight.
“I think it stinks,” said Judy Kugala, of Warrenton. “People are concerned about their children and concerned about the sexual content in the conference. They (city officials) haven’t heard the end of it.”
Chris Bridgens, a local spokeswoman for Parents’ Rights, said the group was “very disappointed.”
“We won’t give up,” she said. “We will pursue getting it canceled.”
When parents learn more about the conference, they will not want their children to participate, Bridgens said.
About 25 percent of the 300 participants at last year’s conference were high school and college students, according to conference organizers. Students attending the conference must be accompanied by an adult. Seaside and Astoria school districts do not send students to the conference.
“We’re very disappointed that there wasn’t something in the contract that wouldn’t allow the city to cancel the conference,” Bridgens added. “We will try to inform the parents more so they know what goes on there and they will not want their kids to attend.
“We were lied to,” she said. “We thought the kids were going to be given a healthy education.”