Friday, October 22, 2010

Why Cedarburg Schools Are Out of Step with the New Sex Ed Law

The Healthy Youth Act, a new law passed earlier this year that the ACLU of Wisconsin supported, raises the state standards for how public schools offer human growth and development courses. Because of the law, what we know as sex ed should be non-discriminatory, fact-based, age-appropriate, and comprehensive in covering FDA-approved methods of birth control, their benefits and how they work. The comprehensive approach to sex ed is the most effective way to teach young people the facts about human sexuality so that they can make healthy choices in their adolescence and into their adult lives.

But this month, the Cedarburg School District sent a letter to parents that described the school’s new policy regarding human growth and development instruction. Parents will be required to fill out an opt-in form in order for their children to receive a comprehensive lesson plan about reproduction and sexual health.

This year’s plan for sex ed at Cedarburg is unlike that of other schools across the state. By separating classes for topics the school board has deemed “sensitive” – topics that would be necessary to make the curriculum comprehensive and medically accurate – the school board is evading the law by offering non-comprehensive instruction to students who have no evidence of communication from parents.

Our state legislators wrote the law with the intention that all students would be offered complete information about sexual health and relationships as a basic part of their health classes. In spite of the long-studied recommendations from the school’s curriculum advisory committee, the board’s decision is unfortunate in that it is the very lack of communication from parents that will result in less education for students who deserve to get the facts about how their bodies work and how they can protect their own reproductive health.

So to the parents of Cedarburg: please read the letter from your school about sex ed carefully. Send a note to the school office saying what you think before November 1. But most importantly, make sure your school board members know that the silence of parents should not result in less information for the students of Cedarburg. Schools should be in the business of providing young people with more education, not less.

Read the latest about how the Department of Public Instruction warned the Cedarburg school district that their plan could be challenged by civil litigation and a letter to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from a physician and member of the curriculum advisory committee about why the plan is non-comprehensive and bad for the students of their school district.

Download our resource pages (PDF) with "Questions for Parents to Ask About Sex Education" and "Ten Ways to Work for Comprehensive Sexuality Education."