Though only 52.5 percent of 3rd through 8th graders in Chicago’s Public Schools (CPS) met or exceeded reading and math standards this year, the district will now demand that kindergartners set aside 30 minutes per month for sex-education classes.
According to the Chicago local CBS affiliate, some parents aren’t happy about their young children being taught about sex at school.
“I want to know what kind of education she is receiving before she gets that education,” said Stella Yang, the mother of a kindergartner. “As a parent, I have a right to know.”
CPS officials say the sex-ed curriculum will use age-appropriate language to teach children about correct names for body parts, bullying, and the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
Chief Health Officer at CPS Stephanie Whyte said, “As you identify body parts, you talk about should you be touched here or not. And if someone touches you, and it’s uncomfortable, you should tell a trusted adult.”
Another parent, Ayesha Ahmad, said, “I’m with it. I’d like to believe it’s not necessary, but I think our culture dictates you can’t start early enough.”
While teaching young children about respect for others and how to get help if they may be in a potentially abusive situation is one issue, the sex ed curriculum kindergartners in CPS will be exposed to will also teach them about same-sex relationships, a topic that many others believe should be handled in the home.
According to the CBS local report, students will also be taught about “different family structures that exist in today’s society.”
“Whether that means there’s two moms at home, everyone’s home life is different, and we introduce the fact that we all have a diverse background,” said Whyte.
Some parents have concerns about topics like homosexuality being taught in the classroom.
“If he has questions, I’m happy to answer them, but I’m not sure it belongs in a classroom setting,” said Brooke Lyon.
For now, it appears that parents are able to have their child opt out of any lesson to which they object, but when sexual values are taught in school, that could mean that children and their parents who “opt out” are stigmatized in other ways.
The new CPS policy calls for 300 minutes of instruction or about 30 minutes per month.
In 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois endorsed sex education in public schools for young children.
At a Planned Parenthood convention in July of that year, Obama answered a question by a teenage girl, who said she was working as a sex-education “peer educator” in the Washington D.C. public schools, regarding what he would do to encourage the teaching of “medically accurate, age-appropriate, and responsible sex education” in public schools.
Obama responded first by noting that he had already worked with Planned Parenthood to push a sex education bill when he served in the Illinois state legislature.
Next, Obama mocked his former opponent Alan Keyes’ reported statement, “Barack Obama supports teaching sex education to kindergartners.”
Then, Obama said:
You, as a peer, can have enormous power over your age cohort but you’ve got to have some support from the schools. You certainly should not have to be fighting each and every instance by providing accurate information outside of the classroom because inside the classroom the only thing that can be talked about is abstinence.
As ABC News reported at the time:
When Obama’s campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers “age appropriate” for kindergarteners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had “moved to clarify” in his Senate campaign that he “does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten… The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois’ sex education standards with ‘medically accurate’ information… ‘Nobody’s suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,’ Obama said. ‘If they ask a teacher ‘where do babies come from,’ that providing information that the fact is that it’s not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that’s going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.'”
As CNSNews observed, Obama’s campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, also suggested that Obama’s views on sex ed for kindergartners was akin to a “curriculum for those in kindergarten” produced by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).
The curriculum states that, in teaching a “Key Concept” about how social and cultural environments shape the way individuals learn about sexuality, children should learn the following concepts at the appropriate age:
• Demonstrate respect for people with different sexual values.
• Exercise democratic responsibility to influence legislation dealing with sexual issues.
• Assess the impact of family, cultural, media, and societal messages on one’s thoughts, feelings, values, and behaviors related to sexuality.
• Critically examine the world around them for biases based on gender, sexual orientation, culture, ethnicity, and race.
• Promote the rights of all people to accurate sexuality information.
• Avoid behaviors that exhibit prejudice and bigotry.
• Reject stereotypes about the sexuality of different populations.
• Educate others about sexuality.
Despite then-Sen. Obama’s support for the proposal to have mandated sex education in kindergarten in CPS, the bill did not pass and never became Illinois law.