The Spokane, Washington school district has rejected a middle school sex education program developed by Planned Parenthood largely due to concerns the curriculum is associated with the abortion provider.
Though the Get Real curriculum had been approved twice by a school district group known as the Human Growth and Development Citizen Advisory Committee, the Inlander reports “those who opposed it mainly were concerned that it was developed by Planned Parenthood.”
According to the report, Adam Swinyard, Spokane Public Schools chief academic officer, said school officials told the school board it would not send the decision to approve a comprehensive sex education (CSE) curriculum such as Get Real to the board. Instead, the district will do what it has done in the past – create its own curricula, topic by topic.
Education manager for the local Planned Parenthood affiliate Rachel Todd is a member of the Human Growth and Development Citizen Advisory Committee.
“I think I can speak for most of the committee, at least a number of folks I know and talk to, and say that it’s disappointing,” Todd says, “but not totally surprising.”
Todd added the Planned Parenthood Get Real program was chosen because it has been shown to be effective.
The Get Real curriculum was developed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) and published by ETR. In addition to covering birth control and sexually transmitted disease, the program teaches children about LGBTQ issues and terminology, and meets the state of Washington’s new sex education requirements.
In Grade 6, the Get Real curriculum says it introduces students to the “key Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills” they will supposedly need to be able to discuss sexual relationships and how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
According to the program’s table of contents, in Grade 7, students also discuss sexual identity and “examine the myths and facts about sexual orientation.” They also learn how to use a condom and review the use of hormonal contraception, including emergency contraception after sexual intercourse.
A senior official from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), however, tells Breitbart News Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) programs have been shown to be largely ineffective because they normalize teen sex and assume most adolescents are sexually active, a position that is not supported by research data from the federal government.
A 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows nearly 60 percent of high school students today have never had sex, an increase of 28 percent since 1991. This data complements research that also shows a historic drop in teen pregnancy rates since 1991.
Yet, despite the data that was produced during his own tenure, in his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017, former President Barack Obama eliminated funding in his administration’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP) for sex education programs that focus on reinforcing the already healthy decisions made by adolescents. He proposed funding, instead, only CSE programs, which assume most teens have sex.
“The previous administration tried an approach that just didn’t work,” the HHS official tells Breitbart News. “And our commitment requires that we change that approach.”
An HHS document points to 37 evaluations of TPP programs performed for grant applications to fund the programs.
“Overall, of the 37 funded and evaluated projects, 73% either had no impact or had a negative impact on teen behavior, with some teens more likely to begin having sex, to engage in unprotected sex, or to become pregnant,” HHS states. “Very few positive results were sustained over time.”
Despite the negative results, the document notes the same curricula “remained on the TPP approved curricula list for the second round of replication grants, begun in 2015.”
“Given the strong evidence of negative impact or no impact for these programs, continuing the TPP Program in its current state is not a reasonable option,” the Trump HHS department concluded. “The evidence stands in stark contrast to the promised results, jeopardizing the youth who were served, while also proving to be a poor use of more than $800 million in taxpayer dollars.”
HHS has recently announced a $10 million research project that proposes to rigorously evaluate sex education programs.
According to the HHS official:
If we know that more teens are waiting to have sex today than 25 years ago, then shouldn’t we be reinforcing those healthy decisions and building upon that? Similarly, we know that teen pregnancy rates have decreased and yet sexually transmitted diseases and infection have increased to record levels. There’s something going on there, and we need to learn what it is and to make sure we make some amendments to the messages we’re communicating, because we can’t be satisfied with those numbers. Those are the real lives of young people who are being impacted – both for the short-term and often even for the long-term. So, there’s a large body of social science research that can inform not only what we present in these programs, but how it’s presented, and we’re going to build upon that with this new research.
One of the components to be studied in the research concerns young people and their parents.
“We also want to talk to parents because oftentimes parents underestimate the impact and importance of their talking about these topics with their young people,” the official explains. “And so we want to understand where parents are struggling, what they understand, and how to bridge that so that they can become more the sex educators for their young children. This research is going to help uncover that, both from the teens’ perspective and from the parents’ perspective.”
HHS notes it is important for young people that sex education programs not be enmeshed with politics.
“We want their health to be improved and maintained, and the goal has to be optimal health outcomes, not something that might have an argument from a political sense, but could compromise their health as a result,” the official said. “We’re not going to go there. This is not about politics, this is about health.”