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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Students say legislator questioned virginity of teen in meeting with high school students

Joseph O'Sullivan Seattle Times Olympia bureau

OLYMPIA – Walking into a meeting Monday morning with state Rep. Mary Dye, a group of high-school students didn’t expect to be asked about their virginity.

But visiting as part of Planned Parenthood’s annual Teen Lobbying Day, the group of about a half-dozen got that question from Dye, a Republican lawmaker from Pomeroy whose district includes southern Spokane County.

After the students – part of a Pullman-area teen council chapter of Planned Parenthood visiting their lawmakers – advocated for bills that propose to expand insurance coverage for birth control, Dye did some advocating of her own.

Dye asked if the students were virgins and suggested one was not, according to the students and Rachel Todd, a Planned Parenthood worker accompanying the kids.

“After she made the statement about virginity, all of my teens looked at me,” said Todd, an education specialist for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho. “And I said, ‘You don’t have to answer that. You don’t have to answer that.’ ”

Dye then gave her opinions to the students about sex and making the right choices, according to those in the room.

A spokesman for House Republicans confirmed that she did ask about virginity, and the lawmaker later issued a statement apologizing.

“In hindsight, a few of the thoughts I shared, while well-intended, may have come across as more motherly than what they would expect from their state representative,” Dye, 54, wrote in prepared remarks. “If anything I said offended them or made them feel uncomfortable, I apologize.”

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