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‘Comprehensive’ Sex Education Curriculum Has Some Worcester Parents, Students Up In Arms

December 21, 2018

Worcester parents and students clashed over a so-called comprehensive sex education curriculum for middle school students during a school committee meeting Thursday night.

Designers of the curriculum, Making Proud Choices!, say it’s designed to help kids avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases “by abstaining from sex or using condoms if they choose to have sex.”

Supporters say the program is needed in order to introduce students 12 and older to techniques they can use to stay safe, including students who are attracted to members of the same sex.

Opponents say it violates the beliefs of many students and their families.

“I think it does violate the faith of my culture and my people. We don’t believe in sex before marriage, we don’t drink, we don’t smoke,” said Gaal Adan, a 2018 graduate of North High School in Worcester, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

A Worcester School Committee member, Dante Comparetto, put the item on the meeting agenda Thursday, December 20 because he said it was taking too long for school administrators to bring back a re-worked version after withdrawing their original proposal in September because of opposition to it. He supports the curriculum.

The creators of the curriculum describe it, in part, this way:

A series of fun and interactive learning experiences increase participation and help adolescents understand the faulty reasoning and decision-making that puts them at risk for STDs, HIV and unplanned pregnancies. Activities are designed to increase comfort with practicing condom use, address concerns about negative effects of practicing safer sex and build skills in condom use and negotiation, and incorporate social cognitive-behavioral skill-building strategies (i.e., presentation, modeling, and the practice of condom use negotiation skills).

The curriculum involves culturally sensitive video clips, games, brainstorming, role-playing, skill-building activities and small group discussions that build group cohesion and enhance learning. Each activity lasts only a brief time and involves adolescents getting out of their seats and interacting with each other. In this way, it is possible to maintain interest and attention that might fade during a lecture or lengthy group discussion.

In Worcester, a new proposal for implementing the curriculum is expected to be presented at a school committee meeting January 17.

The Telegram & Gazette story in the lede calls the sex education curriculum “expert-backed and widely used, but locally controversial.”

The last paragraph of the story, after noting opposition, says:

“Making Proud Choices is backed by many health and education experts, however, and is used in other school districts in Massachusetts and cross the nation. Locally, health leaders and sex education advocates have endorsed the program for the schools.”

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