A new sex education program has blown through the Windy City’s public school system, clearing the way for reproductive curriculum as early as kindergarten, at least in Chicago. The policy, passed February 27 by the Chicago Board of Education, launches a two-year effort to implement the change.
Most American schools begin sex education in the fifth grade, but the Chicago way aims to begin the process much earlier. The new Chicago Board of Education policy requires minimum time allotments and topic areas for the subject, from kindergarten up.
Chicago’s revised sexual health education plan is “framed around age-appropriate instruction and medically accurate information for all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students,” reads a February 25 CPS statement. The document continues:
The recommended policy would make CPS the largest urban U.S. school district with an established and comprehensive sexual health education curriculum specifically designed for every grade level to ensure age-appropriate material and with minimum instructional minutes for each grade across a broad scope of family and sexual health education topics for K-12 students.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CPS chief executive officer, outlined the objective of the new sex education program.
It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors, and relationships. By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the pre-adolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.
Chicago’s public school sex education initiative updates a 2008 Family Life and Comprehensive Sexual Health Education policy and responds to standards promoted by President Barack Obama’s national HIV/AIDS strategy and Windy City Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Healthy Chicago effort, according to the CPS statement.
Organizations participating in the development of the new Chicago sex education policy included:
- Chicago Department of Public Health
- Chicago Public School students
- Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
- Mikva Challenge
- Planned Parenthood of Illinois
- University of Illinois Chicago
Readin’, ‘Ritin’, ‘Rithmatic, and Reproduction?
The sex education program for the Chicago Public Schools calls for progressively detailed instruction, as students advance through educational grade levels, from kindergarten through high school.
Younger students will learn about anatomy and physiology, reproduction, healthy relationships, and personal safety. Pupils from fifth grade up will receive instruction on human reproduction, transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), healthy decision-making, sexual orientation and bullying, abstinence, and contraception.
The Chicago public school system is the nation’s largest, with approximately 431,000 students enrolled. Observers outside the Windy City may wonder whether Chicago’s sex education program from kindergarten on will become a prototype for other cities across America.