Department of Education Puts Controversial Sex Education Program on Hold
The Hawaii State Department of Education will place its sex education program, Pono Choices, on hold after the completion of the 2013 Fall semester to conduct a review of the pilot curriculum.
The DOE calls the program a “medically accurate” program that informs teens about pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases and gives students greater knowledge of the risks associated with unsafe sexual behaviors and be more likely to report safe sex practices, including abstinence.
However, many parents of the 11-to 13-year olds who have been taught the curriculum, said they have found its content offensive, graphic and inappropriate for their kids.
Hawaii News Now reports parents were concerned their children in sixth, seventh and eighth grade, were learning to put condoms on dildos and about performing oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex.
Leila Hayashida, DOE’s Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support said, “Recent concerns over the department’s sexual education curriculum have resulted in misstatements and misunderstandings about the learning that takes place in the classroom. Pono Choices is a pilot curriculum and is one of seven DOE approved curricula for schools to use for sexual health education. We recently asked the CDS to address public concerns about the curriculum’s descriptions of healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships.”
However, following the 2013 fall semester, Pono Choices curriculum implementation will be placed on hold while the CDS addresses concerns and the DOE completes another review process.
The 9.5-hour course, developed at the University of Hawaii's Center on Disability Studies and funded by the federal Office of Adolescent Health, has already been taught to 1,700 middle school students in the public school system in 34 Hawaii public and public charter schools participating in a randomized controlled trial.
The DOE said in a statement that alll DOE approved Sex Education courses are in compliance with the Board of Education’s abstinence-based sex education policy and for any course or lesson that is considered “controversial,” parents have the option of opting-out their child.
A study to determined the impact of the course, which began in 2011, was scheduled to run until 2015.
Teachers have been trained by the developers to implement the curriculum.
"We look forward to the review process as this will provide us with the opportunity to address any concerns the department may have with the curriculum” said Kelly Roberts, Ph.D., principal investigator for Pono Choices. “Our goal is to have a positive impact, reducing teen pregnancy and preventing STIs, through the use of medically accurate and evidence-based curricula. We appreciate the parents who attended our informational sessions and provided valuable feedback while obtaining answers to their questions regarding the curriculum.”
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