Chicago Tribune (02.23.13)
Chief Health Officer Stephanie Whyte said that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is considering a new sex education program that would address sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time. Prompted in part by new federal and city standards on health education, including President Barack Obama's National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Healthy Chicago initiative, Whyte declared that the program also would present sexual abstinence as "a component of healthy and informed decision-making instead of an accepted norm." Whyte will present the new policy to the Chicago Board of Education on February 27. The policy would make CPS the largest urban US school district with a specific curriculum for each grade level and a required minimum of sex education instructional minutes.
In the new program, kindergartners and first-graders would study topics such as healthy relationships, personal safety, and anatomy; second- and third-grade students would learn about growth and development; and fourth-grade students would focus on the physical, social, and emotional aspects of puberty, along with the causes of HIV transmission. After fifth grade, the program would encompass appropriate discussions about human reproduction, healthy decision-making, bullying, and contraception.
More CPS students are sexually active, and they reside in an area that ranks among the highest in the nation for STDs; Cook County ranks first or second in the United States for syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia rates. According to the most recent CPS data, Whyte states, "Fifty-two percent of our students have had sexual intercourse. And we know [fewer than] 36 percent did not have a condom on, and 88 percent were not on an oral contraceptive. These are risk behaviors, and we want to make certain we provide awareness." Whyte noted that, as with the current policy, parents could keep their children out of the program.