Local and Community News
Utah: Educators Urged to Teach the Facts About HIV, AIDS
July 19, 2002
Many parents want their kids to know about HIV prevention; teachers in Utah know how to dispel myths with good information; but young people are not being taught the facts. Fear is in the way, a panel of teachers and teenagers said this week. "We do have a tremendous amount of parental support for HIV education," said Margaret Rose, formerly of the Utah Office of Education and now vice-principal at Rowland Hall-St. Mark's School. "But we have a disconnect," among parents, teachers and Utah's Legislature, which has advocated abstinence-focused sex education. The mind-set among Utah lawmakers, Rose said, seems to be that "if we don't talk about sex, kids won't have sex."
Ruth Huftling, whose son died of AIDS complications six years ago, summed up the message she wants to send parents: "If you love your children, you won't keep them in the dark."
Some teachers are afraid they will lose their jobs if they teach students about HIV/AIDS, so they avoid the subject, said Jacqueline Morasco-Engtow, a state education specialist. "There's a lot of misinformation about what they can and cannot teach," and which units require permission slips signed by parents, she said. The number of teachers who teach state-approved curricula on contraception and HIV has dropped in recent years, Morasco-Engtow said.
Two teenagers on the panel backed up Morasco-Engtow's view. Justin Nelson and Lindsay Haden, both high school seniors, said they were not taught how HIV is transmitted, or about pregnancy prevention. Nelson said one teacher used a rubber chicken in a brief session on the AIDS virus. Haden added that she learned that STD stands for sexually transmitted disease -- but nothing more was taught in her health course. Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, in an effort to counter what he sees as the Legislature's unwillingness to foster open exchange of information about STDs, moderated the panel discussion.
Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
07.16.02; Diane Urbani
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.