The Norman Transcript


January 26, 2014

Sex education varies among Okla. school districts



Comprehensive sex education includes medically accurate information on topics such as relationships, human development, abstinence, the benefits and side effects of all contraception, disease prevention and how to avoid unwanted sexual advances, according to the sexuality council. HIV/AIDS education includes a discussion of the spread and prevention of the disease.

Oklahoma law requires school districts to send notes to parents informing them of all sex education and HIV/AIDS-prevention classes. Parents can opt out if they don't want their children participating. In many districts, some required classes, such as health or biology, cover the basic biological facts of reproduction.

Here's what Oklahoma Watch found in its checks with school districts:

Largest Districts

Norman Public Schools does its sex education as an event outside of regular classes in middle school. Students in grades six through eight learn about body image, body parts, relationships, pregnancy, STIs and puberty all with a focus on abstinence, spokeswoman Shelly Hickman said.

* Oklahoma City Public Schools had a comprehensive sex education program about 20 years ago, but has since phased it out due to the need to spend more time focusing on college preparedness and standardized tests, said Susan Johnson-Staples, college career readiness and guidance services director.

Now high school students get some related information in biology and anatomy classes and in elective health and family classes, she said.

“I think over the last many years, there has been this tremendous emphasis to make sure our kids are academically prepared when they leave school,” Johnson-Staples said. “I don't think it is that there isn't a need (for sex education). I don't even think it's a case of people perhaps don't recognize a need. The focus is just over here (on academic subjects).”

* Tulsa Public Schools partnered with several local organizations to start teaching comprehensive sex education and pregnancy-prevention in the fall - something never done before in the district. The classes started in two middle schools and two high schools, said Jim Walker, Tulsa Youth Services executive director, who is helping with the initiative. Because the curriculum was successful in the fall, Tulsa Public Schools will introduce it in all high schools this spring, Walker said.

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