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This month, as board members sat in stoic silence, activists from both sides vented their feelings during three hours of public comment - reflecting divisions that have bedeviled school boards nationwide, as well as state legislatures and even Congress.Kathryn Russell, a grandmother who formerly worked for the Omaha school district, said the proposed curriculum "rapes children of their innocence." It was another critic in Omaha, Jesse Martinez, who used the "pits of hell" reference, calling elements of the course material "garbage.
"Lack of effective sex education can have very real, very serious health consequences," said Dr.
Stephanie Zaza, director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health.
"Young people who have multiple sex partners, don't use condoms, and use drugs or alcohol before sex are at higher risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections."Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood, said the statewide policies are not a good barometer for what's happening school by school.
Whether or not there was a statewide mandate, an individual district might do a good job or bad job with its course, she said. John Santelli, an adolescent medicine specialist at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, says there has been a slight decline in the teaching of comprehensive sex education, including instruction on condom use.
Quality online programming "is not buffeted by political fights over what teens can and should learn," Albert said.
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"It allows for real-time modifications and updates, it offers anonymity, and it meets teens where they are, which increasingly is in front of screens." "There's so much social media and other sources that they can go to that are not always reliable," Goding said.He finds that worrisome, citing research that casts doubt on the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs."There's been a decline in support for sex education at the political level," Santelli said."People are getting fed up - they'd rather avoid the whole issue."While the federal government has no direct role in dictating sex-education curriculum, it has influence in the form of federal funding for various programs."Supporters of the update - ranging from the president of the city council to students who spoke - exhorted the school board to equip students with reliable information that would help the Omaha region lower rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases that are above the national average."I have a right to this information," said Ryleigh Welsh, a sophomore at Omaha's Central High School. It's about understanding and taking care of your body and being prepared for a healthy future."In Omaha, as in many U. communities, some parents and conservative activists insist that any school-based sex education emphasize sexual abstinence as the wisest course.It is one of several organizations that's developing online sex education to supplement school-based programs.There's no detailed nationwide breakdown of how the 13,500 school districts in the U. handle sex education, although the Centers for Disease Control compiles partial data.Its latest report, with data from 2014, suggests that programs in a substantial majority of school districts stress the benefits of sexual abstinence, while a smaller portion offer instruction in high school about usage of specific contraceptive methods, including condoms and emergency contraception. S., fewer than half of high schools and only a fifth of middle schools teach all 16 topics recommended by the CDC as essential components of sex education.The board plans to vote on new standards for the sex-ed program on Jan.20, then work on details of a new curriculum in time for any changes to be implemented next fall.Omaha Public Schools, which serves about 52,000 students in its district, has taught sex education since 1986 as part of a course called Human Growth and Development.The process that's been underway since early last year marks the first comprehensive review of the course.