Montgomery, Illinois: School Board Contemplates ‘Abstinence-Plus’
By Shannon Ingram, SIECUS Program Research Intern
In Illinois, the board of education of Oswego Community Unit School District 308 is considering abandoning abstinence-only-until-marriage education in favor of “abstinence-plus.”1 Programs would still be required to emphasize abstinence as the most effective to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STIs, but it would also add lessons on contraception.
Health teachers in the district’s two high schools are currently not allowed to talk to students about contraception. According to Carla Johnson, the district’s executive director of teaching and learning, a local survey shows that 82% of parents would support an abstinence-plus program.2
However, other parents and at least one board member voiced concerns that the school was not an appropriate place for this sort of conversation to take place. Board member Brent Lightfoot opposes any change to the sexuality education curriculum: "My personal problem with this is that I don't think it's the school's responsibility to be teaching this. I think it's the responsibility of the parents to talk to their children about their values, their morals, and their religion in the home."3 The Board was expected to vote on the proposed policy change by late October, but the decision has been postponed.
1 “Fast Facts,” Oswego Community Unit School District 308, accessed 31 October 2011, <http://www.oswego308.org/assets/5/about_district_308/districtfastfacts.pdf>.
2 Steven Jack, “School Board Hears Proposed Changes to Sex Ed,” Montgomery Patch,12 October 2011, accessed 14 October 2011,
3 Lyle R. Rolfe, “New Sex Ed Curriculum Presented to School Board,” Ledger-Sentinel, 13 October 2011, accessed 31 October 2011, <http://www.ledgersentinel.com/article.asp?a=9935>.