Articles about Sex Ed
[This piece came from the Merrill Foto News. Today in Merrill, the School Board will be voting on the Human Growth and Development Curriculum. This is the reporting that accompanies that sort of development]
By Merrill Foto News Staff
By Jamie Taylor
Seventh in a series
Last Wednesday the Human Growth and Development (HG&D) Committee set up by the MAPS Board of Education to study and recommend changes to the district’s health curriculum finished its review of the PRMS and elementary components.
The bulk of the meeting dealt with approving the overhaul of the health classes taught at Prairie River Middle School and approving slides and videos to be used as resource material there and at Merrill High School classes. The committee also reviewed changes made after the previous meeting to the opt out form that will be mailed to parents of all students taking any part of the curriculum.
The committee viewed the slides that showed the damage caused by various sexual transmitted diseases that were part of the Powerpoint presentation provided by the Lincoln County Health Department that Scott Arneson uses in the MHS health class. The committee had asked the previous week to be able to review these slides to make sure they could not be considered pornographic.
MAPS Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Carole Witt Starck said that when she reviewed the slides before the meeting, she was surprised at the damage these diseases can do to genitalia of both sexes. She thought the slides were still useful as they show how much serious damage the diseases can do.
“What the slides showed me was that it could affect all genitalia,” Witt Starck said. “You might find some of these pretty graphic, but these are pretty serious diseases.”
After reviewing the slides, the group debated their merits with input from PRMS health teacher Brian Suchocki. Two members of the committee argued that showing just half of the slides that didn’t show more identifiable genitalia would be just as effective as showing all of them.
“If you had some of these slides without the (labeling of the type of) disease, they could be considered pornographic,” one member said.
Suchocki disagreed, saying “I’ve had some parents tell me they (the slides) are pretty effective with their kids. They aren’t getting any enjoyment out of viewing them.”
Dr. John Sample, MAPS Director of Student Services and Special Education, also asked how the committee could determine which diseases were important enough to warrant inclusion and which could be left out? He said the district would be doing the students a disservice by leaving some out. He also noted that they were viewing just certain slides out of context of an entire classroom presentation.
The committee then voted 11-1 to leave the presentation intact, with one member abstaining from the vote.
The committee then turned its attention to the PRMS component, which Suchocki had previously recommended changing. Due to budget reductions, the PRMS health class was changed from eighth to sixth grade several years ago. Because some information presented in the former class is not considered age appropriate for sixth graders, it is now no longer taught. Suchocki has recommended that a three day session on HG&D be taught to eighth grade students to help them understand the importance of remaining abstinent and the consequences of becoming sexually active.
It had been argued in an earlier meeting that students going from PRMS to their freshman year of high school undergo a very social summer and peer pressure is very strong at that age.
Under the proposed eighth grade class, students would still be separated by sex and taught on the reproductive system of the other sex for the first time on the first day. The two sexes would be together for the second and third days when they would see a different set of slides on STDs as well as other information previously taught by a doctor. On the third day they would be taught about healthy relationships and sexual harassment as well as other information previously taught at that grade level. PRMS counselor Tana Frost said such modern concerns as cyber bullying and other Internet or cell phone related problems would also be addressed on this third day.
The committee also viewed several clips from several videos that he had identified as important to show PRMS students in either sixth or eighth grade and one that might be appropriate for high school students. One was made by students that dealt with STDs, pregnancy and other issues and ended by telling students that it was okay to remain abstinent.
Suchocki pointed out that abstinence is something he repeatedly stresses in his instruction.
The committee approved Suchocki’s set of slides, the video he wished to show his students and a third video “The Miracle of Life.” While the last video, which follows the development of an embryo from before conception to birth, was deemed appropriate to be shown to all grade levels from sixth grade on, it would most likely be used by Arneson, primarily due to its length.
Although the committee was not making any changes at the elementary level, it still reviewed those curriculums.
On the opt out form, which the district is not required by law to provide parents although they do have the right to opt their children out of the material, the committee revisited its decision to not include an opt in provision. A couple members thought having parents send the form back indicating that they were allowing their children to study the material would provide the district as much useful data as the optional request for comments section for those opting out. It would also be a way to spark parent involvement in the discussion of the material with their children.
However, Sample warned that not only would the provision make more work for district employees having to contact parents who did not return the form, it also could possibly leave the district open to a legal challenge of the policy. The Cedarburg School District is currently embroiled in such a suit because it made its policy opt in rather than opt out, among other deviations from state requirements.
“In my opinion, we are getting dangerously close to doing exactly what Cedarburg did,” he said.
On a second vote on the policy, an 11-2 decision reaffirmed the use of an opt out only form.
Now the group will work on drafting its formal recommendation to be sent to the board for action later this month. Once the Board of Education has approved the new curriculum, parents and other community members will have at least 45 days to comment on it before it is taught at any grade level.
This week, two stories have come to my attention. One gives me hope, and the other reminds me that there is a lot more work to do to ensure reproductive justice for everyone. Let’s start with hope. According to the River Front Times, Washington University in Missouri is starting a program to help young women prevent unintended pregnancies and to protect their sexual health and well being. Read the full story here. Now for the “roll up your sleeves” story. Upside Down World reports that the Center for Reproductive Rights and Vivo Positivo are working with HIV-positive women in Chile to bring an end to forced and coerced sterilization. The recently released a report, Dignity Denied, outlines the work to be done in Chile.
[This Letter to the Editor appeared in the Merrill Foto News Sept. 15, 2010 in regards to Comprehensive Sex Ed in Merrill, Wi]
Letter to the Editor:
Regarding the issue of sexual development, i.e. sexual education, in the schools, one important factor that has not been addressed is whether the school system is prepared, able to provide moral, ethical, spiritual, religious principles on which to build one’s sexuality.
It seems the only issue being tossed around is whether or not children should have information about STDs and contraception. This is putting the horse before the cart.
It is my right and responsibility to guide, teach and help my children come to full adulthood. But, to teach then the mechanics of sex and contraception is equal to showing them how a car works, giving them the keys and saying, “drive, just do it safely.” This is absurd.
Until the school system and whomever else may have an interest in teaching my children how to handle their sexuality shares my love, concern and pain with mistakes they may make – until they are able to impress upon them that sexuality is an awesome powerful gift, given by God. With it comes not only the physical responsibilities of the body, but the potential for deep emotional pain and brokenness of spirit.
Indeed sexuality in its whole is powerful, cementing a man and woman’s commitment and love.
As is with any powerful tool it has the potential to destroy. There are worse things than unplanned pregnancy and disease, such as damaged emotions, warped view of sex, shame, guilt, inability to bond, trust and ultimately love.
Until you are as concerned with my child as a spiritual being with emotions and you share my values and knowledge gained from failures and victories – until God gives you the responsibility and accountability He has given me as a parent – please stay out of my way.
Citizens of Lincoln County
[This letter to the Editor appeared in the Merrill September 15, 2010 in regards to Comprehensive Sex Ed in Merrill Public Schools.]
The founding fathers crafted the foundation of our country with Christian principles placing Life first, then Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. In that order due to the importance of each. Without Life, the other two principles don’t matter. We cannot claim to believe in our country if we deny this thinking as it is the very foundation and bedrock of our country’s birth certificate.
The recent decision for the MAPS district to move forward with the mandate to teach comprehensive sex ed causes one to question how many citizens understand this basic truth. The two main authors of the sex ed bill, Taylor and Grigsby, were endorsed by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is the state’s largest abortion provider and they already receive $11 million of our tax dollars annually ($6 million is from the Family Planning Waiver – the teen birth control program). Let us not forget, teenagers can receive services without parental consent or knowledge. Is this what we, as Christians, believe to be acceptable? If we believe in the foundation of this country and what it stands for then we cannot support and defend organizations such as Planned Parenthood (the largest abortion provider in America), Family Planning Health Services (FPHS), Wisconsin American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NARAL Pro Choice and Milwaukee LGBT Community Center. The legislation they support drives a wedge between parents and their children by confidentially providing contraception and referring for or providing abortions.
When Neville Chamberlain declared “Peace in Our Time” after appeasing a man like Hitler and selling out the Czechoslovakian people, Winston Churchill was asked what he thought of Mr. Chamberlain’s statement. Winston Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”
We cannot appease anyone or any organization who proclaim one thing, claiming to keep our children health, while their actions speak another, providing contraception, which gives our children a false sense of protection, and abortions. We complain the morals in this country are going down the tube, however, when we have the opportunity to adhere to our morals, we didn’t side with our moral authority and bent to the pressure of pop culture. Why didn’t the Superintendent and the five board members take a “leap of faith” and trust the parents and the community members who have spent months researching this legislation and what it means for our district?
It seems their decision was made up before the meeting even started. In fact, President Jeff Verdoorn, instruction the board members to speak first to express their thoughts prior to hearing community comment, which set the tone and confirms this intuition. Why didn’t the five board members look at the real numbers of pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) for Lincoln County? The official government statistics reveal that between 2005-2008 Lincoln County had a yearly average of just five births to under 18 year olds and that is ALL of Lincoln County. Also, for our county’s demographic, the government statistics show an STD rate of 1.8 percent (ages 15-19). Do these numbers qualify as a “crisis?” Why didn’t the board members believe a new study showing, once again, abstinence education does work? Why would the board approve a curriculum before there is a curriculum? There isn’t even a properly formed committee to make recommendations to the board on what the curriculum will be or for that matter is mandated to be by the new law.
This is an issue of whether to teach comprehensive sex ed as mandated by Madison versus opting out, forming our own curriculum and teaching what our community wants, terfore, maintaining local control. 321 community members signed a petitioun stating “no” to this mandate. There were not near as many in favor of approving it. The board had a decision to make. A lack of morality becomes a morality unto itself. What is proposed to us through this new sex education course is that our schools are to become not only a school, but also a parent, and a church. We are now, in effect, throwing virgins into the volcano of popular culture. “Peace in Our Time?” Hardly. Moral corruption? Absolutely.
Paul & Karen Cournaya,
Joe & Dorly Dahlke,
Joe & Carole Fink,
James and Mary Litschauer,
Tim & Pam Moat
We found this great piece by Alex DiBranco on the Change dot Org Blog, and thought we should share it.
Of all the creepy things I don’t want to see in my campus newspaper, up around the top of the list is advertisements lying to and shaming rape victims who choose to have an abortion.
In a series on RH Reality Check, Robin Marty looked at anti-choice advertising by the Human Life Alliance (a Crisis Pregnancy Center). Marty reports that the “advertising supplement” is riddled with lies, starting with the Table of Contents, where it claims that abortion in America “is legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason.” Seriously, if that was true, pro-choicers wouldn’t have any work to do.
From there the insert pursues further common anti-choice deceptions, such as breast cancer scare tactics; inaccurate conflation of birth control with abortion; and gory, frightening, but completely false descriptions of abortion procedures and side effects. But what really takes the cake is the shaming and manipulation of rape and incest survivors, who are told they will feel they’ve “conquered” their assault by giving birth.
The advertising supplement informs students, “In the only major study of pregnant rape victims ever done, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent chose against abortion” (underlying message: so if that is your choice, something is clearly wrong with you). What was the “major study”? Why, it was the decisions of 37 women who came to the study’s author for advice. Besides the fact that this is not enough women to be scientifically significant, gee, I wonder if the biases of the rape counselor against abortion had any impact. The medically unsound ad further takes it upon itself to tell doctors to advise against the trauma of abortion for rape victims, without consideration of the unique situation facing each woman.
Oh, and in case of incest, according to the insert, abortion has never ever had a positive impact for the victim. It’s just the abusive parent who wants it; “the incest victim is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way out of the incestuous relationship because the birth of her child will expose the sexual activity.” Really, incest victims should hope they get pregnant as a means of escape? And it won’t be clear to anyone unless she give birth? There are better ways to address incest than saddling a child — since most incest victims are minors — with a child she can’t take care of, and her immature body might not be prepared to give birth to.
The Human Life Alliance has particularly targeted University of Wisconsin schools, with at least seven papers in the system agreeing to disseminate their lies (kudos to the student newspapers who have rejected these ads). Many students are upset at seeing the deceptive ads, however, and are speaking up; in a Letter to the Editor in the Student Voice at UW-River Falls, Nikki Shonoiki denounced the inaccurate “ads”: “Nothing was being advertised here; instead, you [the editor] contributed to the dissemination of 12-page tasteless booklets of disinformation designed to denigrate and shame women who receive abortion care.” And at Stony Brook University, where a campus paper also ran the ads, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance began a campaign against these problematic inserts and Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
Insist on truth in advertising by signing this petition telling student newspapers running HLA inserts to join their peers who have rejected these inaccurate, agenda-driven ads.
(Printed in the Juneau County Star Times – Saturday April 10, 2010)
Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth wrote area school districts a letter which may intimidate teachers, administrators, and school board members from developing or teaching a comprehensive community-based human growth and development curriculum.
The unfortunate consequence of his action will not be to delay first sexual intercourse by Juneau County teens. It is more likely that those teens, when they do become sexually active, will not have the information they need to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections. Many people do not get any sex education after high school, so it is also likely those teens will not have the health information they need to make informed health care and family planning decisions when they marry and/or become sexually active as adults.
District Attorney Southworth’s statement that schools teach about sex for pleasure or that sex education is analogous to teaching people ‘how to mix drinks,’ makes it obvious that he either was not in a reputable sex education program or he wasn’t paying attention. Although there are always a few examples of highly publicized unacceptable behavior that opponents of sex education point to, there is no accepted pre-college program that teaches human sexual response to minors and I know there is no Juneau County school district curriculum that teaches techniques of sexual pleasure.
What do reproductive health educators teach young people?
- They can prevent cancer by being vaccinated against HPV.
- Consistent and correct use of condoms can prevent sexually transmitted infections.
- Testicular and breast self-examinations are important preventive health care regimens.
- Folic acid is important to pre-pregnancy planning.
- Coercive sexual touching is illegal and destructive.
- Hormonal contraception can prevent pregnancy.
- . . . and other information that helps people make informed decisions to protect their health.
None of the material is erotic and none of it could be considered in a court of law to be “encouraging young people to have sex.”
Family Planning Health Services (FPHS) is a private non-profit corporation with a mission based on the ideal that information is better than ignorance when it comes to sexual health. When we are invited to participate in any classroom, our presentation respects school district standards. We strive to be age-appropriate and medically accurate. Our first concern is always the health and well-being of community families.
District Attorney Southworth has gained a lot of media attention and there will be controversy and fund-raising on all sides of this issue. Through that turmoil, FPHS will continue to provide the community with access to family planning services and education that is responsible and professional. We support Juneau county school districts who educate our young people and we promise to support any district or local teacher who provides lawful sexuality education as described in The Healthy Youth Act and who is charged with a crime by District Attorney Southworth.
For a number of years, advocates for reproductive health care and for the empowerment of young people have been warning about the dangers of Abstinence-Only Sexuality Education. As predicted, years after heavily funding this initiative to deny people, particularly young people, accurate information about reproductive health topics, we are beginning to see an up tick in the number of teen pregnancies, births and sexually transmitted infections. SIECUS released it’s State Profiles: A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States for Fiscal Year 2008. It’s a fascinating and complete look at what kind of sex ed is happening and the related health outcomes.
Coincidentally, Tara Malone of the Chicago Tribune took a look at the issue in Illinois which ranks fourth in receipt of Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage funds. Her article, Sex ed: Abstinence-only programs under review, is a great read on the tough challenges that state faces. As we see increasing numbers of teen pregnancies, births, and sexually transmitted infections, more communities are discussing the sex ed programs in their communities. In my community, I know we have a curriculum for sex ed, but it’s hard to find out if it is being taught district wide. What’s happening in your community?
Low Levels of Contraceptive Use Threaten Filipino Women’s Health and Undermine Their Childbearing Desires
From The Guttmacher Institute
Low levels of contraceptive use in the Philippines result in high rates of unintended pregnancy and a broad range of negative consequences for women, their families and the national health care system. “Meeting Women’s Contraceptive Needs in the Philippines,” a new report from the Guttmacher Institute and the University of the Philippines Population Institute, documents the considerable social and financial benefits that would accrue from investing in contraceptive services to enable women to avoid unintended pregnancies.
A young mother visiting our Women Infants and Children’s nutrition clinic in Central Wisconsin was frightened by a male picketer as she came into our clinic a few weeks ago. Other women, sometimes our patients, sometimes our employees, have felt threatened by the “40 Days for Life” anti-birth control demonstrators leading a Lenten protest that began yesterday in front of our clinic in Central Wisconsin and in 131 other communities across the nation. Continue reading this article »
Continue reading this article »