A proposed change to the guidelines used by sexuality education classes in Washington, DC has stirred debate in the local community. On November 29, 2007 more than 30 members from the community including teachers, parents, and religious leaders, testified before a State Board of Education hearing on the new guidelines.1
The new guidelines, which cover wide topics of health education, and only a small number of controversial sexuality education pieces, were developed at the request of new D.C. Mayor, Adrian M. Fenty. The guidelines would require that sixth graders be taught that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have sexual feelings, and the need for love, affection, and physical intimacy. In eighth grade, students would be taught the definition of sexual orientation using accurate terminology, and would be taught that some people feel sexually attracted to individuals of their own sex. In ninth grade, students would analyze trends in contraceptive practices and be educated about abortion.2
While most of the approximately 30 people who testified supported the guidelines, some religious figures present argued that teaching about contraceptives or sexual orientation gives implicit approval to teen sex or homosexuality, which the Rev. Sylvet Walker called “a deviation from the natural order of things.”3
The board has not taken any subsequent action on the hearings, but SIECUS will continue to monitor any developments as they occur.
- Gary Emerling, “Public Ponders Sex-Ed Classes,” The Washington Times, 29 November 2007, accessed 8 January 2008, <http://washingtontimes.com/article/20071129/METRO/111290084/1004>.