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N.C. Comprehensive Sex Ed Advocates Seeking Broader Curriculum, Including Information About Contraceptives, STDs

February 8, 2005

Comprehensive sex education advocates in North Carolina this year plan to encourage the state Board of Education to broaden the existing sex education curriculum beyond its "abstinence-until-marriage" focus, which mentions contraceptives only to discuss their failure rates, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. The advocates say that the results of a recent state Department of Public Education survey conducted among parents of North Carolina students show that parents want more comprehensive sex education information for their children, according to the News & Observer. The survey found that parents favor expansion of the current state sex education curriculum to include information about contraceptives and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Parents also favor beginning sex education at a younger age, increasing classroom time spent on sex education and adopting a sex education curriculum approved by parents and public health officials, not politicians, according to the survey. Current state law requires schools to emphasize abstinence until marriage but allows schools to include other information, such as lessons about the proper use of contraceptives and STD prevention, if the school holds public hearings on the content. Currently, more than 100 of the state's 117 school districts follow the state's abstinence-until-marriage curriculum.

Legislation Not Planned
Melissa Reed, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, is heading efforts to change the state guidelines -- most likely without new legislation -- in order to provide a comprehensive sex education curriculum for all state students, the News & Observer reports. Reed also wants to eliminate any "medical inaccuracies" in the state's abstinence education information, following a December 2004 congressional report conducted by the staff of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) about factual errors in abstinence-based sex education curricula nationwide. However, Bill Brooks, executive director of the N.C. Family Policy Council -- which in 1995 pressed for the state Legislature's approval of the statewide abstinence-only curriculum -- said he opposes any effort to broaden the sex education curriculum because a more comprehensive curriculum could send "mixed signals" to children and provide a "false sense of security that contraception protects" against pregnancy and STDs, according to the News & Observer (Gardner, Raleigh News & Observer, 2/7).

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