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News Round Up: Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Missouri

Rachel Hart,
Reproductive Freedom Project
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September 10, 2007

Over the last week, school districts all over the country have grappled with the issue of sex ed.In El Dorado, Kansas, the school board will vote tonight on whether or not to adopt the abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum Choosing the Best. Reviews of the curriculum have shown numerous problems — from promoting gender stereotypes to distorting information about STDs. The article in the El Dorado Times quotes a local high school student who offers his opinion on the information that teens need:

You can tell people all you want not to do something, but they’re still going to do it. If you don’t teach them to be prepared for it, then you’re going to have a whole bunch of teens having unsafe sex because you didn’t teach them to prepare for it.

Meanwhile, the school board in St. Vrain Valley, Colorado, received a sex ed lesson last week. The local school district brought its sex ed curriculum — demonstrations with male and female anatomical models and information on the proper use of birth control — to the board members so that they could see first hand what students will be learning in the upcoming school year.And the debate over the new sex ed curriculum in Montgomery County, Maryland, has heated up once again. Last Wednesday, papers were filed in court to stop implementation of the new program by a local organization concerned about lesson plans that discuss sexual orientation.Local officials aren’t the only ones in the cross hairs. Last week, the National Abstinence Education Association launched a campaign attacking Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for his decision not to apply for federal grants supporting abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Patrick’s spokespeople have called the ads, which suggest that the Governor supports sexual activity among 11- and 12-year-olds, a “complete and utter distortion of the facts.”And finally, last week Missouri’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on the rise in STDs among teens and young adults in the St. Louis area. The article says teens are particularly susceptible because of an “it won’t happen to me” attitude coupled with a lack of sex ed in the schools.

Nearly half of high school teenagers in Missouri have had sex, and one-third say they are sexually active, according to a 2005 survey. And yet, only two-thirds of sexually active teens said they had used a condom during their last intercourse…. A majority of students in the St. Louis area leave high school having never had a comprehensive sex education class.

Local advocates say a hesitancy to teach teens how to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs extends beyond the home into doctors’ offices, “Even doctors feel that talking about sex, especially with younger patients, is taboo which leaves peers as the primary source of information about sex.”

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