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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

WISCONSIN: Despite New Law, Changes Unlikely to Sex Education


Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire) (04.30.12) - Friday, May 04,

A new state law repealed the requirement that sex education instruction include discussion of contraceptives as a way to prevent STDs and pregnancy, but some local educators say they have no plans to move away from a comprehensive approach.

"The law really doesn't change our curriculum," said Jim Sauter, principal of Chippewa Falls High School.

The law, backed by Republican legislators, was signed by Gov. Scott Walker in April. Its supporters say it clears the way for abstinence-only sex education instruction by allowing communities to decide which approach best serves their needs.

Wisconsin law has long required educators to work with school board advisory committees to establish sex education curricula. These committees are composed of teachers, school administrators, students, health care professionals, clergy, and other district residents. Committees typically meet every three years to do a curriculum review.

Detractors of the new law say this review process already ensured community input. They worry that districts that select an abstinence-only approach could see a rise in teen STDs and pregnancy. "We've been tracking this for decades, and we know abstinence-only education doesn't work as well," said Gretchen Beckstrom, a health teacher in the Eau Claire school district.

"I need to prepare kids for the future. They're not always going to be ninth-graders," said Beckstrom. "Someday they're going to need to protect themselves from STDs. And they're going to want to plan their families."


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