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After Racy Slides, CPS Will 'Scrub' All Sex Ed Materials: CPS Health Chief

By Stephanie Lulay | November 20, 2014 5:59am
 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 — The racy slides that made their way into grade school curriculum binders were not only inappropriate for students, they were wrong for teachers, too, a CPS health leader said Wednesday night.

Dr. Stephanie Whyte unexpectedly attended a Local School Council meeting at Andrew Jackson Language Academy, the Near West Side elementary school where parents first raised questions about "inappropriate" sex education slides. Whyte, chief of  the Chicago Public Schools Office of Student Health and Wellness, is also expected to meet with Jackson parents at 5 p.m. Friday at the school.

Last week, parents at Jackson said they were shocked after viewing sex ed materials labeled for fifth-graders, contending that the information was over the top and not age-appropriate.

At the LSC meeting Wednesday night, Whyte said her team is conducting a "scrub" of all CPS sex ed materials. Every document that is not part of a lesson plan will be reviewed for appropriateness, Whyte said, and questionable materials have been removed from a shared Google Drive account.

"What you saw was not a part of anything ever intended to be taught to students," Whyte said. "Admittedly, there should be a better option of a reference material for our educators."

On Tuesday, Jackson Principal Mathew Ditto said the materials were "mistakenly downloaded" and displayed in a binder labeled as curriculum for fifth-grade students.

One of the sex ed 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 read: "Got issues? Lube! Lube! Lube!"

Whyte said she wants parents to be able to review the sex ed curriculum before it is presented in classes so they can make the best decision about whether their child should attend the class. Parents can opt their children out of school sex education classes by providing written notice to a school.

A survey conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control of CPS students shows that 10 percent of CPS middle-school students are having sex, and 27 percent of those students are not using contraception, Whyte said.

School-specific sex ed?

Jackson LSC Chairwoman Angela Bryant said the racy slides, while now omitted from CPS' internal system, have spurred a larger conversation about the sex ed curriculum at the school.

On Wednesday, Bryant asked Whyte if Jackson could develop its own curriculum as an alternative to the CPS sex ed curriculum.

"Is this particular curriculum required? Because the [CPS] policy reads ... 'CPS approves,' meaning that we could come up with something, submit it, and it be approved," said Bryant, who is an attorney.

Whyte said she had a different interpretation of the CPS policy. Under her interpretation, the CPS central office must "dictate" the sex ed curriculum for use in all CPS schools, she said.

"It's about having uniformity across the district," she said. 

Bryant said late Wednesday that Jackson parents won't easily accept the CPS "cookie-cutter" approach to sex ed. CPS is widely diverse, and each school, and student, has specific needs, she said.

"I am pleased that she did come," Bryant said of Whyte's visit. "But we have to make sure our curriculum works for our school and is meeting our kids where they are."

Bryant, who has read through the curriculum, said parents want age-appropriate, "objective" sex ed.

"That 10 percent number is high, but the message [in the curriculum] is more geared toward, 'When you do it, get it good,'" she said.

CPS' sex ed curriculum does not adequately address consent laws and sexual abuse, she said.

After viewing the sex ed material last week, Bryant launched a petition urging CPS to suspend teaching the sex ed curriculum in elementary schools.

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

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