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Sex Ed Round-UP: Ohio and Virginia

Rachel Hart,
Reproductive Freedom Project
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October 24, 2006

Ohio: Cleveland school officials have announced a plan to expand sex education curriculum to include age-appropriate lessons beginning as early as kindergarten in an effort to reach all 58,000 students in the city. (Currently many Cleveland schools only offer sex ed to middle and high school students). The announcement came in the wake of some startling statistics:

Cases of chlamydia, the most common STD, rose 30 percent over the past five years while HIV, rarely diagnosed in adolescents, turned up in 19 Cuyahoga County teens.

The classes will address self-esteem and peer pressure as well as biology. According to the article,

Children in grades K-3 will learn about how viruses work and appropriate and inappropriate touching. Grades 4-6 will start learning about menstruation and other aspects of reproductive health. In grades 7-12, the discussion shifts to interpersonal relationships, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and respect for sexual orientation.

Participation in the classes will be voluntary.A second article noted that the program will be funded by an $800,000 grant from Cuyahoga County, and an editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the effort is a smart move but calls for the classes to be mandatory, noting that “Teen sex isn’t a private matter, not when it devastates society.”Virginia: A couple of articles follow-up on the abstinence-only-until-marriage assembly at Loudoun County High School last week. The Washington Post reports that the ACLU was originally alerted to the event by a local parent who was, “alarmed that the school system would invite a sex-ed presentation from someone who was not a health-care professional and who has ‘a clear religious agenda.'” Interestingly, the article touches on the trend of inviting religious speakers to speak at school assemblies on everything from drugs to bullying to suicide and of course, abstinence.The Leesburg Today reports that a local watchdog group called Mainstream Loudoun sent an open letter to the school superintendent questioning whether Keith Deltano, the Christian comedian who led the assembly, was “qualified to conduct a curriculum-related program on sex.” A parent who attended the assembly and is involved with Mainstream Loudoun had this to say:

Deltano cherry-picked facts, gave children inaccurate and incomplete information and misrepresented the effectiveness of condoms. On a personal level, I’m a parent. We will encourage our children to wait. But at the same time we want them to get [complete and unbiased information].

Meanwhile the Free Lance-Star out of Fredericksburg has a letter-to-the-editor in response to an article about local schools requiring sex education. The letter writer says she believes

taxpayers would rather foot the bill for contraceptive education than prenatal care, childbirth, WIC, and possibly welfare due to a teenage pregnancy because of lack of knowledge about contraceptive choices!

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