Published time: November 17, 2014 19:38
Andrew Jackson Language Academy (AJLA) hosted several parent workshops during report card pickup on Wednesday, including a meeting on Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) sex ed curriculum. Parents were given a binder that included the materials and topics that would be discussed, including the benefits of female condoms for extending sex and increasing pleasure, the use of lubrication and how to insert condoms into the anus for anal sex.
Parents were notified of Wednesday's presentation in a letter from school principal Mathew Ditto. The letter said a CPS representative would be at the meeting where "we will share the lessons and information that will be taught to your child." CPS has said some of the lessons are even intended for children in kindergarten, DNAinfo reported.
The letter said the topics included personal safety, human reproduction and childbirth, puberty, abstinence and healthy relationships. Fourth-graders and above would also learn information about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. Students in fifth grade and above would also learn about contraception and pregnancy prevention, and lessons would include a condom demonstration, the letter stated.
The chairwoman of the Local School Council, Angela Bryant, has two children who attend AJLA, which has 565 students. She called the way the information was to be presented to students "appalling," “obscene” and not age-appropriate.
"The curriculum is appalling," Bryant told DNAinfo. "The language to me was the most offensive part initially. Pop and lube, lube lube, and those kind of things. ... [It] serves to rob many of our children of their innocence."
"The language for me is very much concerning to me as a parent. The content goes beyond what I feel is age-appropriate for a fifth-grader," she added. Fifth graders are usually between 10 and 12 years old.
Another Chicago elementary school, Waters Elementary, posted the materials and slides that were included in the AJLA binder online. The presentation links to demonstration videos from Planned Parenthood, the Female Health Company and Teaching Sexual Health. The latter provides guidance on age appropriateness: “These videos should only be used for grades 8-12.” It also includes material called The 411 on Female Condoms that was developed by the Chicago Female Condom Campaign.
In a statement Friday afternoon, CPS officials said that the objectionable material presented at AJLA was a mistake.
“The objectionable material presented at Andrew Jackson Language Academy this week is not and never was part of the student sexual education curriculum,” CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said in a statement. “It was mistakenly downloaded and included in the parent presentation, and we agree with parents it is not appropriate for elementary school students.”
“As part of our sexual health education policy approved by the Board of Education in 2013, Chicago Public Schools offers a comprehensive sexual education curriculum that is designed to ensure age-appropriate material and minimum instructional minutes for every grade level, consisting of family and sexual health education topics for K-12 students,” McCaffrey continued.
Only teachers were supposed to see the material, WBBM reported. School officials say they’re taking steps to make sure teacher resources and supplemental materials are kept separate from the curriculum.
CPS passed a new, comprehensive sex ed policy in February 2013. At the school board meeting when the curriculum passed, Dr. Stephanie Whyte, chief officer of student health and wellness at CPS, presented statistics showing that Cook County, Illinois ‒ where Chicago is located ‒ ranks first nationally for rates of gonorrhea and syphilis among all counties and second in Chlamydia, DNAinfo reported.
She said more than half of all CPS high-school students report having had sexual intercourse, 12 percent before the age of 13. More than a third reported not using a condom during their last sexual intercourse, and more than a quarter say they've never been taught about HIV.
In a 2013 press release, CPS officials said implementation of this type of comprehensive education policy "helps to reduce school-level incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment and positively impact rates of [sexually transmitted diseases] and unintended pregnancy among Chicago’s youth."
WMAQ that, although they support sex education, the material went too far for elementary school students.
“Sexual awareness, OK ‒ but how to use a condom, and that it was going to be shown how, is a little bit extreme,” said parent Tamara Gear.
"It definitely gets to an inappropriate level, things I wouldn’t even discuss in my own personal life," AJLA parent Rachel Gigliotti said. "Sex with a condom, sex without a condom, sex with lube ‒ things that no sixth grader should ever be exposed to.”
“To tell my 5th-grader, who’s still into ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ that it’s OK to have safe anal sex ‒ I’m sorry. That’s just not appropriate,” another parent, Amy Miller, told WBBM.
Whyte plans to schedule a meeting with the AJLA staff to review the curriculum by grade. A community meeting will also be planned, McCaffrey said.