The Independent (Grand Island, Nebraska) (02.23.13)
Susan Goodman of the Central Health Center and staff members from the Grand Island (Neb.) school district are talking to middle school parents about sex so that the parents can talk about sex with their children. The school staff has already held morning and afternoon sessions with parents from Walnut and Barr Middle Schools. On February 27, they are meeting with Westridge Middle School parents. Associate Superintendent Robin Dexter said, “We wanted to have morning and afternoon sessions to make it possible for all parents to attend.” Grand Island Public School (GIPS) officials believe parents should be responsible for transmitting their own values and beliefs to their children; thus, it will be up to parents whether to talk about contraceptives with their children.
The district adopted its current sex education curriculum—called WAIT, which stands for “Why Am I Tempted?”—for the 1998–1999 school year as part of a multi-year federal grant to see if the abstinence-only curriculum was effective in preventing teen pregnancies. At the time, Hall County had a higher-than-average rate of STDs and unwed teen mothers, which is still true today. According to a Robert Woods Johnson report, Hall County’s birth rate for teens ages 15 to 19 was 67 per 1,000 girls in 2012, in comparison to a statewide rate of 36 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19 for Nebraska.
Dexter explained that the GIPS district received the federal grant and adopted the WAIT curriculum before she began working for the school district. Even though the federal grant has ended, GIPS still uses the WAIT curriculum, said Dexter, adding that it appears to be the best available abstinence-only curriculum. Despite the abstinence-only curriculum, some GIPS students are choosing to be sexually active. “Last spring, we had 79 students who were either pregnant or who had given birth,” Dexter said. She estimated the district also might average one or two middle school pregnancies per year. Dexter emphasized that the school district’s sex education program is designed to be age appropriate.