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After Racy Slides, CPS Should Suspend Sex Ed, Jackson LSC Head Says

By Stephanie Lulay | November 18, 2014 6:09am
 Some parents say a proposed sex ed curriculum is too racy and not age appropriate.
Controversial Sex Ed Program
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NEAR WEST SIDE — After racy sex ed information surfaced last week, "horrified" Near West Side parents are demanding Chicago Public Schools halt sex education in grade schools.

On Thursday, parents at Andrew Jackson Language Academy said they were shocked after viewing sex ed materials labeled for fifth-graders, saying the way the information is presented is over the top and not age-appropriate.

CPS officials said Friday that it was a mistake to present the information.

Parents said many questions about the materials remain.

Jackson Local School Council Chairwoman Angela Bryant has launched a petition urging CPS to stop teaching the sex ed curriculum in elementary schools for now. Bryant said Monday she wanted CPS officials to audit all content being presented to elementary school students, ensuring that it has been revised to be "modest, objective and age-appropriate."

Stephanie Lulay says parents want to suspend the program:

In a statement, CPS officials previously said that the objectionable material presented at Jackson was a mistake.

"We agree with parents it is not appropriate for elementary school students," CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

But a slideshow that was posted — and later removed — from another school's website, Waters Elementary School, includes all five of the objectionable slides in a PowerPoint presentation. According to the school's website, the slideshows contain information presented to students in April.

One of the pages, titled "Feel Good Reasons to Use FCs [Female Condoms]," included information on how to make sex last longer and read: "Once you pop, you don't have to stop!"

Another page reads: "Got issues? Lube! Lube! Lube!"

On Monday, McCaffrey said that CPS officials are still working with the school's principal and teacher to determine whether the racy materials were disseminated or taught to Waters students.

"There hasn't been anything that indicated that these materials have been presented to students in any way," McCaffrey said. 

But CPS couldn't rule out the possibility.

Bryant said she had questions about the Waters Elementary slideshow and was working to connect with parents and teachers at other schools to determine if the materials had been used in any CPS grade-school classrooms.

Bryant said she was skeptical of CPS' claim that the objectionable material was simply wrongly presented to parents at Jackson.

"I don't believe that it was a mistake," she said. "Whether directly provided to students or indirectly provided as supplemental information to teachers, the expectation is that teachers will use the materials to teach their classes."

Bryant's goal is to get parents to inspect all of CPS's sex ed curriculum and persuade CPS to eliminate any questionable material. So far, 151 people have signed Bryant's petition.

"Many of our parents take our role as the primary educator of our children very seriously, including this subject matter," Bryant said Monday. "Even if this curriculum is intended for only the teachers to see and teach to our children, it remains inappropriate."

Armando Chacon, president of the West Central Association Chamber of Commerce, said he planned to bring up the sex ed issue at a Local School Council meeting Tuesday night at Skinner, a West Loop elementary school. Chacon sits on the Skinner LSC.

The West Loop leader, who has four children, said the controversy hit home. Two of his kids attend Jackson.

"I think CPS is retracting some of [the materials], which is encouraging," Chacon said. "But the thought of fifth-graders [learning about the pleasure of sex] is absolutely ridiculous."

Andrew Jackson Principal Mathew Ditto did not return calls Monday.

In an email sent to parents Monday, Ditto said the school "will be sending out information about future informational meetings concerning the CPS Sexual Health Education Curriculum. Please note that the curriculum is currently being reviewed by CPS."

During report card pickup at  Jackson last week, the school hosted several parent workshops, including an afternoon meeting on Chicago Public Schools' newest sex ed curriculum.

At one point, parents could view materials intended for students, a letter announcing the meeting stated. A binder labeled as the curriculum for students in fifth grade touted the benefits of female condoms for making sex last longer and increasing pleasure. It encouraged using lubrication.

The slides mimic materials on the Chicago Female Condom Campaign's website, a coalition led by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and Planned Parenthood of Illinois, among other groups.

Under the new sex ed guidelines, fifth-grade students are typically taught about contraception, McCaffrey confirmed. The discussion includes use of female condoms, he said.

Parents can opt their children out of school sex education classes by providing written notice to a school.

CPS does not receive funding or grants from the Female Condom Coalition, McCaffrey said Monday.

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