CRAHD Report Leads to CBS-5 Sex Ed Investigation

 

A formal curriculum review for compliance with state education code conducted by CRAHD research scientist Petra Jerman and PHI vice president Carmen Nevarez has spurred an investigation by San Francisco’s CBS-5 TV News – and a change in policy by the Freemont Unified School District.  Dr. Jerman appears in the first video story below, along with parent sex education activist and Bay Area Communities for Health Education (BACHE) leader Renee Walker, and her son.

 

Inappropriate Sex Ed. In Calif. Public Schools?

February 8, 2008.

Anna Werner reporting

FREMONT (CBS 5) ― Renee Walker wants the best for her son Jesse, so when his Concord middle school offered a sex education program, she was eager to sign the consent form. …

For text summary and to view full video, go to: http://cbs5.com/local/California.sex.education.2.649014.html

 

Fremont Reviews Sex Ed. After CBS 5 Investigation

March 13, 2008

Anna Werner reporting

FREMONT (CBS 5) ― A CBS 5 investigation in February discovered the sex education in Fremont public schools may violate California state law. On Thursday, Fremont's sexual education curriculum met to discuss the fate of a program that may be giving inaccurate and misleading information to teenagers that could put health at risk. …

For text summary and to view full video, go to:

http://cbs5.com/investigates/Fremont.sex.education.2.676878.html

 

Palin Renews Debate Over Abstinence-Only Sex Ed.

September 4, 2008.

Anna Werner reporting

FREMONT (CBS 5) ― In the week since John McCain announced his choice of running mate, much has been learned a lot about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's beliefs. She endorses drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Palin supports teaching creationism, alongside evolution, in schools. And she believes in abstinence-only education, though she hasn't tried to enact legislation reflecting that position.

For text summary and to view full video, go to:

http://cbs5.com/investigates/palin.sex.education.2.810633.html

 

Fremont Board Agrees to Comply with State on Sex Education

Contra Costa Times 

June 12, 2008
The Fremont Unified School District Board voted on June 11 to change its junior high sex education curriculum to comply with a state law requiring comprehensive, medically accurate information. Since 2001, Fremont has taught the abstinence-until-marriage program "Health and Relationships in the New Millennium" developed by Await & Find. The state law requiring medically accurate comprehensive sex education became effective in 2004.

A 2006 Public Health Institute review found that the Health and Relationships program inflated condom failure rates, made unfounded claims, and relied on fear and shame in delivering its abstinence message.

"I recognize that we've been out of compliance, but for whatever reason, we were not aware of this" until this year, said Trustee Nina Moore. Students have not been receiving the abstinence-only program exclusively, Moore added: They also have an opportunity to watch the Kaiser Permanente play "Secrets," which discusses sex, condom use, and STDs.

The board asked the sex education advisory committee to recommend a new junior high sex education curriculum that meets state standards. The board hopes there will be enough time to adopt a program by January and roll it out in time for spring, when the courses are usually taught.

In addition, the committee was tasked with reviewing a ninth-grade health textbook, which committee member Cynthia Fong believes discusses abstinence without mentioning contraceptives. Board members also approved the inclusion of Kaiser's "Nightmare on Puberty Street" as supplementary material for junior high  students. A community screening of the video is planned for June 26.

 

Fremont board agrees to comply with state on sex education

Current curriculum improperly stresses abstinence, officials say

By Linh Tat
Inside Bay Area: The Argus

June 12, 2008


FREMONT — In response to findings that its 7-year-old junior high school sex education curriculum is an abstinence-only program that violates state law, the Fremont school board this week instructed the district's health and sex education advisory committee to recommend a new, comprehensive curriculum by January.

 

The new curriculum should provide unbiased and medically accurate information about sex, contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as a discussion about abstinence, the board decided.

 

The district's current curriculum, "Health and Relationships in the New Millennium," promotes an abstinence-until-marriage curriculum, according to a 2006 review of the program by the Public Health Institute.

 

The institute's report found that the curriculum misleads students by inflating the failure rate of condoms from about 2 percent to 12 to 16 percent and by making unfounded claims, such as assertions that "children of unmarried teens have more health problems."

 

The report also said that the curriculum employs fear and shame to discourage premarital sex.

According to a report earlier this year by KPIX Channel 5, the developer of the curriculum, a nonprofit organization called Await & Find, has received millions of dollars in federal funding to emphasize abstinence programs.

 

The school board adopted the curriculum in 2001 — before Senate Bill 71, which outlines current standards for sex education — took effect in 2004. On Wednesday, school board members all agreed that the district must provide a comprehensive curriculum that's compliant with the latest state education codes.

 

"I recognize that we've been out of compliance, but for whatever reason, we were not aware of this (until this year)," Trustee Nina Moore said. "While our curriculum may not meet standards, (students) are not being taught (abstinence only)," she added.

 

Students in Fremont do have an opportunity to watch the Kaiser Permanente play "Secrets," in which the actors talk frankly about sex, condom use and sexually transmitted diseases.

To ensure that students are receiving a comprehensive curriculum next year, the board hopes to adopt a new curriculum by January. Junior high students are scheduled to study sex education in the spring.

 

Susan O'Neil, a member of the health and sex education advisory committee who said she was speaking for herself, not the panel, said Thursday that the current curriculum is several years old and certain sections could be updated, but that doesn't mean the entire curriculum should be scrapped.

 

"It's a very positive approach to the information that has to be given," she said.

 

She said she believes any curriculum should be comprehensive, but students also should know that the only fool-proof way to protect oneself against sexually transmitted diseases is through abstinence.

 

"Kids need to be taught we have an urge to merge. We have a lot of physiological urges that we don't have a lot of control over. We breathe, we blink ... But sexual urges, you don't have to act on them," O'Neil said. "Just because I have an urge to wring your neck doesn't mean I'm going to do it."

 

Cynthia Fong, another member of the health and sex education advisory committee who also was speaking for herself, said she's pleased that the junior high curriculum will change. But she said she continues to have concerns about the ninth-grade health textbook, which, she understands, includes a chapter that only discusses abstinence and doesn't mention contraceptives.

 

The committee will review the ninth-grade textbook. In addition to directing health sex education committee members to review new curricula for junior high students, the board on Wednesday approved the Kaiser Permanente play "Nightmare on Puberty Street" as a supplementary teaching tool for junior high students.

 

Board President Ivy Wu was the only one to vote against it. The district will offer a screening of the play June 26 to community members, and Wu wanted to wait until after the showing to take a vote