Victory for Sex Ed in Pittsburgh: An Organizer’s View

We are celebrating a wonderful victory in Pittsburgh! Tuesday night the Pittsburgh School Board approved the adoption of a K-12 comprehensive sexuality policy for the district. For over two years, I spearheaded the effort to make this change.

It all started when I was shocked to find out that the Pittsburgh Public Schools taught an abstinence-until-marriage curriculum. As a parent who is fairly active in my children's education, this came as a huge surprise. In fact, none of my friends had any idea this was going on in our children's different schools.

The first task was to educate other parents about the sad state of affairs of the health curriculum. We began with house parties where the scary stuff of abstinence-only programs was "outed." Once people knew what was being taught, they were motivated to help change the curriculum.

I organized a group of community members (parents, taxpayers, staff from supporting organizations) to develop a strategy to change hearts and minds of school board members. We used every tool in the organizer's handbook. We testified at public hearings, started on on-line petition and had students collecting student signatures for a petition in favor of comprehensive sex ed. The online petition was a success — more than 750 city residents signed on and through the magic of the Internet, we even had a signatory from Australia. We secured media coverage, and our early efforts were documented in the Freedom Files.

Our greatest surprise: the lack of opposition from parents, from the media, from the school board. Even though all the polls show overwhelming support for teaching our kids sex education, we expected some level of opposition. Happily we were disappointed.

It helped that our timing was exquisite &#8212 the rise in teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections made our campaign prescient. Special thanks also to Sarah Palin who showed how well abstinence-only worked out for her family! The election of a new school board member who took a leadership role for comprehensive sex ed probably sealed the deal.

I hope that our efforts will inspire others to make their schools' curriculum relevant to all teens.

Terri Klein is a board member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

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Thank God I do not live in your school area. I feel sorry for the kids that have to put up with your ideas. Abstain never hurt anyone, nor got any one pregnant.You have got to be kidding, sex ed what a joke.


It is not surprising you did not have opposition. The people who take the education of their children seriously are homeschooling or sending their children to private schools so they won't be corrupted by the crazy liberals like yourself.


This is of topic but I would like to know if what my boss is doing is illegal. I work in a medical office and the owner put in video surveillance equipment so that the entire office with the exception of the rest room is able to be viewed from his home at all times. There is sound on this video and he sits at home and watches everyone and eavesdrops on conversations of both staff and parents comments have been made to employees by him that he watches everyone all the time. No one in the office is doing anything wrong or illegal, but it has made it a huge source of tension for all the employees. You can't even pick your nose without being watched, one camera is just outside the restroom and employees are timed for how long they are in the restroom. I would think this is a civil rights violation can anyone answer this question?????

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