Blog of Rights

Sex Ed Round Up: Arizona, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, and Texas

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 3:10pm
Arizona: Last week, the Kyrene Elementary School District Governing Board unanimously approved updating the district's health curriculum for sixth through eighth grades. The curriculum will now include statements that "sex" refers to vaginal, oral and anal sexual acts, in addition to definitions of STDs. A local parent is quoted saying he doesn't want his sixth-grade son to hear about oral, anal and vaginal sex at his age, but hates to keep his son out of the program because of peer pressure he would face. "Where's the boundary? Can't kids be kids? By expanding the curriculum and terminologies, you are forcing me to have conversations with my kids that I'd rather not have," the parent said. Kyrene parents will have an opportunity to review suggested sex-education books, DVDs and other materials intended for middle school students. Meanwhile an editorial calls on readers to treat "sex education like math for a few moments and look at the simple numbers." It goes on to say that schools are negligent if they don't provide a full and accurate sexuality education. Maryland: An editorial supports a recent decision lowering the ages at which students in Frederick County will learn about pregnancy prevention and HIV/AIDS. Beginning this year, eighth-graders will learn about pregnancy prevention and fifth-graders will receive an introduction to HIV⁄AIDS. Previously, students learned about pregnancy prevention in ninth grade, and HIV in sixth grade. Michigan: An article from a local Michigan paper demonstrates just how powerful local curricula review committees can be in determining what sort of sex education teens receive. Garden City schools will start using a program that I am not familiar with called Safer Choices for students in middle and high school. Does anyone out there know anything about this curricula? Mississippi: Administrators at Leflore County schools have applied for a grant to fund abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for high schoolers, saying "[t]he message has to be clear - that there is no such thing as safe sex." New York: Teen pregnancy rates are dropping in Rochester, New York, (a city that previously held the distinction of having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country). Community activists attribute it to the introduction of the comprehensive sex ed campaign Keeping It Real. Reverend Carlton Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, developed the program and he will be in Rochester on September 12 to give a talk about sexuality education. In an interview last week, Veazey laid out his position: "If we are trying to save lives, I say we must break the silence. No, we are not advocating casual sex. We are very openly saying abstinence is preferred. Abstinence is the safest. But we are also saying: realistically speaking, abstinence doesn't work for everyone. We must provide comprehensive sex education to our young people so they protect themselves." Ohio: More coverage on the teen pregnancy rate in Timkin, Ohio, which I first wrote about two weeks ago. Bill Albert of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy says, "[S]ex is more complex than the information about drugs and alcohol. If we say this is health-related, then we lump it in with drugs and alcohol. But the message with sex is more nuanced. It is not a not-now, not-ever message." Texas: Worth Your Wait comes to Floresville, Texas. The curriculum will be presented to sixth graders, eighth graders, and high school students through their health classes. SIECUS has a summary of some of the problems with Worth the Wait
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