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Archive for Wednesday, April 12, 2006

State board waits on abstinence decision

April 12, 2006

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— The Kansas State Board of Education is considering a proposal that would require public schools to teach sexual abstinence until marriage or risk losing their accreditation.

The board listened to two hours of public comment and expert presentations Tuesday, but took no action and plans to rehash the issue again.

Board members appeared confused about whether such a plan would allow school districts to also offer comprehensive sex education that includes information about birth control methods and protection against sexually transmitted diseases for students who may become sexually active.

Board member Kathy Martin, who proposed the sexual abstinence mandate, said some Kansas schools were not upholding societal values.

"We need to be the ones to say, 'This is the right thing to teach,'" she said.

She said the board already tied accreditation to other subjects such as math and science.

But other board members questioned whether the state board needed to get involved, noting that 75 percent of Kansas school districts offer comprehensive sex education courses that already teach abstinence.

"We as a state board should not be mandating this from a state level," board member Janet Waugh said, adding that every local school board should have the right to make its own decision according to its own needs.

Board member Carol Rupe suggested the board could make a recommendation to teach abstinence before marriage, but said it was wrong to change state regulations to mandate it. She noted Kansas laws already requires physical education that includes health and human sexuality.

"This is much larger, more fraught with danger," board member Sue Gamble said, warning it would set a precedent to tie abstinence to accreditation.

The board heard a presentation from Charles Jenny, a Wichita science teacher, in support of the comprehensive sex education programs now used in a majority of Kansas schools.

"My job is not to teach morals or to judge them about their decisions made," Jenny said. "My job is to teach them about the things out there that can hurt them."

Board members also listened to Sandy Pickert, executive director of the Abstinence Educators Assn. in Wichita, who urged them to mandate an abstinence-only program for public schools. She told the board that comprehensive sex education programs typically spend just 4 percent of their time on abstinence and are not effective in deterring teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

"We have had 20 years of comprehensive sex education to no avail," Pickert said.

Earlier in the day, the board spent more than an hour listening to comments from the public - most of which were overwhelmingly in support of sex education programs that included not just abstinence, but also information about birth control and other sexuality issues.

Comments

BOE 8 years, 8 months ago

"We have had 20 years of comprehensive sex education to no avail," Pickert said. " -

Avail yourself to some of the available research and facts, Ms. Pickert.

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Texas Teens Increased Sex After Abstinence Program

Mon Jan 31, 2005 4:43 PM ET Health - Reuters

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Abstinence-only sex education programs, a major plank in President Bush's education plan, have had no impact on teenagers' behavior in his home state of Texas, according to a new study.

Despite taking courses emphasizing abstinence-only themes, teenagers in 29 high schools became increasingly sexually active, mirroring the overall state trends, according to the study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University.

"We didn't see any strong indications that these programs were having an impact in the direction desired," said Dr. Buzz Pruitt, who directed the study.

The study was delivered to the Texas Department of State Health Services, which commissioned it.

The federal government is expected to spend about $130 million to fund programs advocating abstinence in 2005, despite a lack of evidence that they work, Pruitt said.

"The jury is still out, but most of what we've discovered shows there's no evidence the large amount of money spent is having an effect," he said.

The study showed about 23 percent of ninth-grade girls, typically 13 to 14 years old, had sex before receiving abstinence education. After taking the course, 29 percent of the girls in the same group said they had had sex.

Boys in the tenth grade, about 14 to 15 years old, showed a more marked increase, from 24 percent to 39 percent, after receiving abstinence education.

Abstinence-only programs, which have sprouted up in schools across the nation, cannot offer information about birth control and must promote the social and health benefits of abstaining from sex.

Pruitt said he hoped the study would bring about changes in the content of abstinence-promoting programs.

"These programs seem to be much more concerned about politics than kids, and we need to get over that," he said.

Other programs that focus on the social norms and expectations appear to be more successful, he said.

bettie 8 years, 8 months ago

Here's one more fact for Ms. Pickert:

Teen pregnancies have decreased 20% since 1987, when the State BOE instated a sex ed mandate. This made Kansas one of the leading states in the nation for reducing teen pregnancies.

If that's "no avail," I have to wonder what kind of results Ms. Pickert would like to see.

Unfortunately, the current board allowed that mandate to expire and replaced it with an "opt-in" rule while letting some of the requirements go by the wayside. (One requirement was that information about STD's, especially AIDS, be included.)

The Kansas Legislature had the chance to pass a bill this year that would have taken the old policy and made it permanent. The Senate passed Senate Bill 508 27-13, but the House leadership refused to allow it on the floor for a vote.

It's not dead yet, though. Anything can happen in the veto session.

So if you're frightened about the direction in which the BOE is taking sex ed, please call or write your representatives and urge them to support SB 508.

You can learn more about the bill and all of its supporters, as well as send your representative an e-mail, at www.a-plus4kansas.org.

mom_of_three 8 years, 8 months ago

If schools are to be responsible educators about the subject of sexual education, then abstinence CAN NOT be the only solution taught.
I don't believe teenagers should be having sex, but they should be educated in the outcomes and how to protect themselves as best they can.

bankboy119 8 years, 8 months ago

m o three, have to disagree again. I don't want my daughter taught that IF she does it this is what she should do. She needs to be taught NOT to do it. If you don't tell them not to, then they think it's okay. I was a kid, I remember how it worked.

meggers 8 years, 8 months ago

I remember seeing a show awhile back about teens holding on to their 'virginity' by avoiding vaginal intercourse, but engaging in oral, anal, and other forms of sex. The problem is that since these kids aren't concerned about pregnancy, they aren't using condoms.

What a bummer for a seventeen year-old 'virgin' to suddenly find herself HIV positive.

The problem is that the parents who are willing to step up to the plate and educate their kids about sex are already doing so. It's the kids who don't have involved and responsible parents who will suffer from abstinence only education- they'll learn it one way or another.

wonderhorse 8 years, 8 months ago

bankboy

Then you should inculcate that belief system into her. That is the parent's job, to teach morals--the school's job is to educate. Knowing about birth control and STD's is not a belief system, but facts.

I was a kid, too, and I remember how it worked.

purfektly_trubbled 8 years, 8 months ago

no matter what you teach us, some of us just do not care. it's the parents job to teach their kids what's right and wrong. if they fail to do that... what makes you think you can cram it all in there in a matter of days? their morals aren't going to change because you slap a sticker on thier shirt and make 'em fill out a few worksheets. peer pressure is just to strong, fitting in is all some care about... and if that means having sex. then so be it.

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