Forest Hills changing abstinence-only sex ed curriculum

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Forest Hills Public Schools has decided to make changes to its sex education program, pulling the plug on its "abstinence only" curriculum.  The changes were announced at a Monday board meeting.

The Pregnancy Resource Center was at the heart of the issue.  For the past 15 years, concerned parents say they've been teaching abstinence only. Some parents say students were even sent home with virginity pledge cards.

"What they were doing here was 'abstinence only' education," said parent Kristyn VanderZouwen, "and that's just not giving our kids the whole picture."

Advocates of comprehensive sex education say the lessons prevent sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies.  Some parents who stepped up to the microphone at Monday night's meeting said they had no idea an abstinence-only curriculum was being taught at Forest Hills. They said they should have found out before hearing about it at the board meeting.

The leader of the Pregnancy Resource Center says they were in favor of teaching an abstinence based curriculum instead of abstinence-only but says the school district wouldn't allow them.

"It was Forest Hills solely who asked us not to teach from the abstinence-based plan," said Jim Sprague, president of the Pregnancy Resource Center. "We couldn't even utter the word condom in the classrooms. That is what we were instructed to do for the last 15 years."

Forest Hills Superintendent Dan Behm says that using the state's model for sex education will let let teachers teach the more comprehensive subject of sex education. "What the board decided tonight was to let [Forest Hills Public Schools]-certified teachers provide that state mandated program," Behm said.

The abstinence based curriculum that the district is adopting will include a lesson on contraception.  Behm says that parents can have their children opt out of the sex education curriculum and that students can still receive lessons from the Pregnancy Resource Center if they choose to but will have to do so outside of the school.

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    • Nick Parente

      Not true sir. Safe sex utilizing protection and contraception is neither dangerous nor a bad idea by necessity. To teach kids otherwise is a disgusting attempt to pass dead dogma onto the next generation.

    • Craig Hoekstra

      Seems to me like you three are speaking out of competing worldviews and will never be able to argue each other into or out of each others held positions. From both “sides” there are statements of “Always” “true” and a determination as to what is “best”. This is at its core a theological decision being made by all involved fro m parents, administrators, and you three. The basic question all have to ask is this. “Is the God of the BIble real and does the Bible accurately and truthfully reveal his will for us.” If yes then Kevin you are absolutely correct. If no then Nick and Josh, you nailed it.
      So do we ask the state or school district to make this inherently theological determination for us? Are they qualified to make these decisions? Hmmm food for thought…
      It seems to me like abstinence only education has not acknowledged the reality of sin or “mistakes” in our young people or the fact that sex is going to happen and the state programs ignore the clear fact that abstinence followed by monogamous married relationships are the safest in terms of std’s and unwanted pregnancies. And again the worldviews collide and the state with their support of Plan B abortifacient makes a theological determination that the baby (however unformed) is not.
      I believe the “best” education would be to present the two differing worldviews accurately and yes even mentioning Jesus and Gods way as presented in scripture and present the secular positions and do them accurately. However in this secular society and its grip on the State presenting God and Christianity accurately is unlikely to happen..

      • Jane Johnson

        Public schools should not be making ANY “theologicial determinations” and should teach factual, comprehensive sexuality education. If parents want inaccurate, shaming, and harmful abstinence sex education then they can send their children to a religious school. I would rather there not be *any* sex ed in schools than the abstinence-only kind.

        • Craig Hoekstra

          Hey Jane,
          Thank you for your willingness to engage in a thoughtful discussion. By not making “any” theological schools are in fact determining for us a certain view of God (or lack of God’s existence) . Siding with the atheistic or secular view that God’s best for us as described in scripture in marriage, and sexuality and morality should not be presented or even would not be good to be presented is in fact making a theological determination. It cant be avoided and the widening worldview gap and ever increasing division is evidence of that. I send my children to the public schools knowing that many views would be presented on many topics, By predetermining what to teach and not teach (based on what grounds?) seems counter intuitive for a balanced education and in fact harmful to critical thinking.
          I’m assuming your position but your reference to “factual” education inherently makes a theological determination that God’s teaching on the benefits fidelity and chastity is not true. Your suggestion of no sex ed in schools is not a helpful option because the kids will simply teach themselves. I’d say present both views and let students determine if sleeping around with whoever they want or abstaining is best.

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