Entries in Sex Education (3)


Chicago Passes Sex-Ed for Kindergartners

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- While most U.S. public schools start sex education in the fifth grade, sex education will be coming to Chicago kindergartners within two years as part of an overhaul of the Chicago public schools' sexual health program.

The new policy, which the Chicago Board of Education passed Wednesday, mandates that a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten.  Chicago has the third-largest public school system in the country, with 431,000 students.

“It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships,” Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of the Chicago Public School System, said in a statement. “By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the preadolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.”

Under the new policy, the youngest students -- the kindergartners -- will learn the basics about anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. Through the third grade, the sex-ed lessons will  focus on the family, feelings and appropriate and inappropriate touching. In the fourth grade, students will start learning about puberty, and HIV.  Discussions will emphasize that the virus cannot be transmitted through everyday contact such as shaking hands or sharing food.

From the fifth through the 12th grade, the emphasis will be on reproduction, the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS, and other sexually-transmitted diseases, bullying and contraception, including abstinence.

For the first time in Chicago, sex-ed instruction will cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Students will be introduced to terms and definitions associated with sexual identity, including those related to heterosexual and LGBT populations, in an effort to bring awareness, promote tolerance and prevent bullying, said the school board.

Parents or guardians of students can opt out of the sexual health education program if they so choose.

Developed by the Chicago Public Schools Office of Student Health and Wellness last year, the policy was designed to align the Chicago public school system with the standards in President Obama’s national HIV/AIDS strategy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NYC Special Education School Incorporates Sex Ed in Mission

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For Judy Blake, a mother of two sons, both with autism spectrum disorder, it was important for her to have the sex talk with them at an early age, in clear and specific terms.

"A parent of a child with special needs doesn't just have to be two steps ahead, but 10 steps ahead," said Blake, author of the book, Judy's World, which discusses her experience as a mother to two sons with autism.  "For many kids, learning about sex requires a lot of repetition about safety, appropriateness, social cues and relationships."

Lorraine Merkl, a mother of an eighth grade student at the Aaron Academy, a special education school based in New York City, agrees that sex education must be presented in a gradual, individualistic and repetitive way for many children with intellectual disabilities.

"The school does a good job of laying the foundation of sex, the nuts and bolts, but allows parents like me to talk to their kids about the emotional and moral aspects of sex," said Merkl, whose daughter has Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.

That's because the school makes a conscious effort to incorporate sex education in its mission to educate mindful and responsible adults.

"We have specialized instruction around difficult issues," said Barbara McKeon, director of the Aaron Academy.  "Many students are physically mature, but not there emotionally.  They are a more vulnerable part of the population, being bombarded by media and social networking, it can be difficult to sort out what is expected."

The Aaron Academy follows an educational framework based on research in cognitive neurosciences.  The method encourages flexible learning environments that accommodate individual learning differences, and sex education is a key modality in the school's education mission.

New York City schools are mandated to teach sexual education.  Nevertheless, McKeon said "sex ed is not the goal, but a part of the process" at the school.

Relationship and decision-making concepts are built into the school's courses.  There is focus around health and hygiene for teens going through puberty and students keep journals to write down thoughts they do not want to discuss out loud.

McKeon also said administrators use a "red light, green light" tactic.  If students say something inappropriate to another teacher or student, they will hear "red light."

"The inappropriate comment will fade off and the students are able to process appropriate conversations in a better way," said McKeon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New York City to Mandate Sex Education in Public Schools

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in nearly 20 years, New York City's public middle and high schools will be required to teach students about sex.

In an email to principals Tuesday night, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said mandatory sex education will start in the second semester of the 2011-2012 school year. The curriculum will be flexible but will include lessons on how to use condoms, how to avoid unwanted sexual encounters, and how to respect relationship partners.

"We have students who are having sex before the age of 13; students who have had multiple sexual partners; and students who aren't protecting themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS," wrote Walcott. "I believe the school system has an important role to play with regard to educating our children about sex and the potential consequences of engaging in risky behavior."

The mandate applies strictly to the New York City public school system. New York State currently requires one semester of health education in both middle and high school, but does not mandate sex education. Only 20 states and the District of Columbia mandate sex education, according to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, which studies sexual health.

Schools will have the choice of when and how to incorporate sex education into their current health curriculum. Walcott strongly recommended, however, that it take place in sixth or seventh grade, in middle school, and in the ninth or tenth grade, in high school. He also recommended two commercially available programs: HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk.

"The programs that are effective, and involve some lecturing by teachers and a variety of interactive activities, like small group or class discussions and role playing to help young people practice saying no to unwanted sex," said Doug Kirby, senior research scientist at ETR Associates, a nonprofit organization that develops health education programs that include HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk.

Kirby said the curriculums are age-appropriate, meaning the focus for younger students is on abstinence, shifting more toward condom and contraception use for high school students. And contrary to the notion that sex education will rush kids into having sex, Kirby said four separate studies found that Reduce the Risk delayed the initiation of sex.

Walcott emphasized that parents will have the opportunity to hold kids back from specific lessons on birth control for religious or cultural reasons.

"I have always believed that parents should have the right to opt out of certain sex education lessons such as conversations on prevention and birth control, as they will in this case," he wrote. "But I also feel we have a responsibility to offer our students access to information that will keep them safe and healthy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio