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Best Religious School: Abstinence education from an otherwise liberal place 

Bishop O'Dowd High School

A few years ago, students at the Catholic Bishop O'Dowd high school created a Gay-Straight Alliance. While the school administrators approved of the idea, Bishop Allen Vigneron of the Oakland diocese didn't, and had the club disbanded. The school responded by changing the name of the club, which had become widely popular. But again, the bishop found out. Although this school off 98th Avenue just west of the Oakland Zoo caters to the middle and upper class (tuition for the 2006-2007 school year was a pricey $11,200), that isn't necessarily reflected in its values. With about half the population non-Catholic, the school has tried to maintain a more liberal atmosphere -- it has held a schoolwide presentation on AIDS, and according to some students, bisexuality is tolerated. Besides the school's strong drama and sports departments, O'Dowd also has one of the East Bay's shining college prep programs. While it's far from being liberal Berkeley High -- O'Dowd's required Christian Sexuality class teaches abstinence to its freshmen -- at least it's not espousing intelligent design ... yet.

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