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Sticking with pro-abstinence approach

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Northeast and North Central Nebraskans may have gotten the impression over recent months that every large school district in the state had already moved to — or was moving to — a big change regarding sex education curriculum.

The Omaha Public Schools, for example, has been aggressively moving — despite considerable opposition from some parents — to what proponents like to call “comprehensive sex education.” The Bellevue district already has such a program in place.

Was this a trend? Was it a sign of momentum across the state?

Fortunately, the answer to those questions is “not necessarily” — thanks to recent action by the Millard Public Schools.

That district’s sex-education curriculum avoids discussion of gender identity and other topics that sparked heated debate elsewhere. The Millard board also reaffirmed its commitment to teaching what the district describes as a “pro-abstinence” sex-education curriculum. Board members voted 6-0 to reaffirm existing board policy that has been in effect since 1992.

Good for those board members and the district as a whole.

Some might argue that a “pro-abstinence” focus in a sex-education curriculum is hopelessly out of touch with society today. But consider, for example, what the Millard district has in place as a framework for its health and sex education instruction:

— Fifth-graders would learn about puberty and AIDS. Sixth-graders would learn about puberty, the human reproduction system and birth.

— In eighth grade and high school, the lessons include abstinence and contraceptives. The framework states that contraceptives are included to highlight “inadequacies and ineffectiveness of their use ... to support (the) position of abstinence and safe approach to sexual behavior.”

— The framework also indicates that teachers would not demonstrate how to use family planning devices as is the case in some other districts.

— Eighth-graders would get lessons in pregnancy, birth, teen parenting and sexually transmitted infections.

— Millard teaches contraception methods but stresses that abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method.

We find it hard to believe that any reasonable-minded adult — especially parents — could review that framework and not find it appropriate and plenty comprehensive. Additional topics and discussions would then be the responsibility of parents to provide, as should be the case.

So, don’t be misled into thinking that it’s impossible or difficult for school districts to maintain a pro-abstinence approach to sex education. Such an approach is more prevalent than many might believe. The Millard district is just one example.

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