A new policy approved by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will require all public school students to participate in sex education instruction, beginning in kindergarten. According to the CPS website, the new mandate, passed on February 27, will require each student to receive “minimum instructional minutes” of sex-ed information that is “medically accurate” as well as (supposedly) age-appropriate.
“It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors, and relationships,” Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in the CPS announcement about the policy. “By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the pre-adolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.”
In its announcement, the CPS explained that in the earliest grades students “will focus on the family, feelings, and appropriate and inappropriate touching, while students in fourth grade will learn about puberty, including the physical, social, and emotional changes that accompany it, and the causes and transmission of HIV infection.”
After that, instruction gets more intimate, said the announcement, with content in grades five through twelve including “information appropriate for each grade level on human reproduction, transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), healthy decision-making, sexual orientation and bullying, and contraception, including abstinence.”
The announcement emphasized that “as is the case under the current CPS policy, parents and guardians are able to opt out of having their children participate in the sexual health education instruction.”
The CPS noted that the plan was developed by the Chicago Public School Office of Student Health and Wellness, with help from a consortium of community action groups, including Mikva Challenge, the Chicago Department of Public Health, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health — and, not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
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