Neenah District to update Sex Ed. curriculum, with pushback from community

NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Neenah Joint School District is hoping to make changes to its dated Sex Education curriculum but is getting push back from the community.

“When we hear that 1 in 4 of our high school students are engaged in sexual intercourse, we want to be sure that they understand what all the ramifications of those actions are,” says Susan Hull, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the Neenah Joint School District.

Hull says the district’s Sex Education curriculum was last updated more than a decade ago.

“Some of the changes that we've introduced are either adding information, medically accurate information into the curriculum that isn't part of our current curriculum,” she says, "or having the learning objectives taught at an earlier age.”

The school district tells Action 2 News the updates are being made to educate students and keep them safe – but some residents disagree, saying extensive sex education should be kept at home.

“We would like to see Neenah be a pilot for Wisconsin on what can be taught, or what should be dealt with in schools, in Sex Education,” says Jim Dickson of Neenah.

He calls explicit Sex Education “pleasurable poison,” something he says is inappropriate for the classroom.

“How about teaching healthy lifestyles? When you're teaching sex, you're teaching something that is fraught with danger,” he says.

According to Dickson, things like contraception should only be taught at home – and only if parents want their kids to learn about them.

“You are planting seeds, and this what's really bad, when you do it for 14 years, you get those seeds pretty deeply ingrained,” Dickson says. “And if that's not what the home taught, all the sudden you're teaching contrary, and then you really have conflicts in kids’ lives.”

One particular change the district is making – explaining how to use condoms as contraception, starting in Grade 8.

“We have found out that 25 percent of our high school students are reporting that they're engaged in sexual intercourse,” Hull says. “And so if we wait until their high school course to teach about pregnancy, reproduction, use of condoms, how to protect themselves from STI's, they might already be engaged in that behavior.”

Right now the Neenah Joint School District already teaches other forms of contraception and will only be adding the explanation of condoms to their curriculum.

Dickson says showing such an action at such a young age is going too far.

“Get away from the explicit,” he says. “The new curriculum has demonstrating condoms in junior high level, and for about 80 percent of the kids that's all wrong. Maybe 90 percent.”

While some of the curriculum has already been approved, three more additions are up for discussion at a School Board meeting this Thursday.

If passed, all the Sex Education updates will be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year.

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