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Florida: Expanded Sex Education to Begin in Eighth Grade

February 25, 2009

Concurring with the recommendation of an advisory committee, the Volusia County schools superintendent on Tuesday announced that county eighth-grade and high school students will be taught an expanded sex education curriculum beginning in April. Dr. Margaret Smith had asked the committee to review the county's sex education plan after an Ormond Beach mother complained that the abstinence-only instruction in place for years was not working and discriminated against gay and lesbian students.

A majority of School Board members wanted to offer the expanded program as early as sixth grade; however, there was no vote, as the curriculum decision falls under the superintendent's authority.

By law, Florida schools are required to teach "abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching the benefits of heterosexual marriage." School districts, however, are allowed to move beyond this message if they wish.

The committee recommended sticking with the abstinence-only message in middle school but using an abstinence-plus curriculum -- including information on birth control, STD prevention, and sexual behavior outside of intercourse -- for high school students.

Eighth-graders will have to obtain parental permission to take part in the abstinence-plus lessons. Parents of high school students can opt their children out of the program if they wish. Deputy Superintendent Chris Colwell said parents and students will be allowed to review the state-approved materials before they are used.

Physical education and health teachers will receive about three hours of instruction before they present the lessons.

Board member Al Williams suggested the board might want to expand the abstinence-plus programming to sixth- and seventh-graders "once parents and students get used to this."

Back to other news for February 2009

Adapted from:
News-Journal (Daytona Beach)
02.25.2009; Linda Trimble

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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