By Noelani Bonifacio – Pono Choices, a controversial sexual education program in the State of Hawaii, has been implemented in 20 schools statewide and is expected to be implemented in all middle schools statewide, by School Year 2014-2015.
After reviewing the material I believe the material is inappropriate for the Target Audience (ages 11-13), and in other cases, any educational environment.
Pono Choices, while claiming ‘abstinence,’ gently pushes, in some cases shoves, children towards sexual activity.
Pono Choices describes situations where an ‘abstinent’ teen girl is on the pill, teens discussing living together or being sexually active after a few weeks of dating, homosexual relationships, condom demonstrations (described as a ‘critical health skill’ and telling the children where they can receive free condoms and there is no age requirement to obtain them).
The most egregious of the material included in Pono Choices is a video entitled “You Cannot Get HIV Ladatt!” in which Augie T. is operating a condom wagon, trying to persuade passers-by to purchase condoms.
He advertises colored, flavored, glow in the dark, even “extra, extra, extra large” condoms. While he tells viewers they don’t have to engage in sexual activity, this is forgotten by the end of the sentence as he continues to promote his condoms.
Pono Choices offers little to no information on sexual harassment, Sexually Transmitted Infections, their symptoms and consequences or single parenthood.
If the Department of Education and University of Hawaii Center for Disability Studies stands so strongly behind Pono Choices, they should implement an ‘opt-in’ policy, as opposed to an ‘opt-out’ policy when it comes to their sex-education program, while making the entire curriculum readily available for review.
Although schools who have implemented Pono Choices hold Parent Nights, the material presented is a very broad overview of the curriculum, completely passing over the more controversial aspects.
While the public can request to view the Pono Choices curriculum in its entirety, you will only receive it after writing the DOE a check for $80.75 for printing fees. No luck in getting a PDF copy either. When asked for an electronic copy, they stated that none is available.