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A new state law repealed the requirement that sex education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."