"I certainly could have had a better choice of words," said Liston. "That's the word that inadvertently came to my mind."
Liston made the comment while at a Republican caucus luncheon on Wednesday.
In response to The Colorado Health Foundation's annual report card, which ranked the state 14th highest in the nation for teen pregnancies, Liston said: "In my parents' day and age, they were sent away. They were shunned. They were called what they are ... There's no sense of shame today. Society condones it ... They're sluts. And I don't mean just the women. I mean the men, too."
Since then, newspapers and television stations have picked up Liston's quote, much to his surprise.
"I didn't realize at the time that I said it, that it would create the reaction that it did," he said Thursday morning at the State Capitol.
While Liston was responding to questions about his comment, students at the Florence Crittenton School in Denver were reading about it online.
"I learned of his comments through one student, who read it on the Internet," said school Principal and Program Director Donna Campanella.
Crittenton is an alternative school for teenage mothers.
"I would say it's upsetting, yes," she said. "Because our students make the best choices they can."
Crittenton specializes in education for girls in 7th through 12th grades. It also provides child care, during school hours and educational programs for teenage mothers and fathers.
In Wednesday's Social Studies class, the girls were talking about Liston's comments.
"He never knows," said one student. "So he has no right to call anybody a slut."
The class members then wrote letters to Liston.
Thursday afternoon, he issued an apology saying: "The derogatory term I used was offensive and inappropriate and I would like to apologize for using it."
Campanella knows that other people also perceive teenage parents as promiscuous. She's hoping her students can change that.
"It's not uncommon for these types of perceptions to be in the public," she said. "But we don't want to concentrate on it here."
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