Health

Oklahoma School District Expands Sex Education Program to Move Away From Abstinence-Only Curriculum

| by Dominic Kelly
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A school district in Tulsa, Oklahoma is about to change the way they run their sex education program. A vote passed Tuesday night to expand both the curriculum and the grade levels at which sex education is taught.

Until now, the district’s sex education program was essentially based on abstinence only, but since finding that Oklahoma is the fourth highest state in teen pregnancies, school officials decided that they needed to enact change.

“Forty-four percent of students who become pregnant or who are married at that age fail to graduate from high school, and that’s something that affects them for the rest of their life,” said Steve Mayfield of Tulsa Public Schools.

The curriculum will be a collaborative effort on the parts Tulsa City-County Health Department, Youth Services of Tulsa, and the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

The program has already been tested in summer school classes, but will initially be taught to 7th, 9th and 11th graders at two of the middle schools and two of the high schools in the district, with the hope of expanding to other grades and schools as it becomes more successful.

This new sex education program will not be a requirement for students, however, and parents will be given the choice to have their children opt out of the classes. Still, the Tulsa Public Schools board is hopeful that parents will see where this is coming from. Officials see this program as hopefully being an effective way to lessen the number of teen pregnancies and diminish the dropout rate.

“We really view the teen pregnancy prevention program as a drop-out prevention program,” said Kim Schultz, Director of the Oklahoma Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “This is really going to help students stay in school, finish school, go onto college, get good jobs, make Tulsa a better place to live.”

Classes will begin at the select Tulsa schools in October.