You would think that in a state with the 12th worst chlamydia rate, where nearly one in ten girls aged 15-19 becomes pregnant, and where slightly more than half of high school students reported using a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse, sex ed would be pretty fucking valuable. Thanks to one aggressively anti-gay lawmaker, parents must now choose to let their middle school kids receive sex ed.
Hawaii State Rep. Bob McDermott has been battling against Pono Choices, one of Hawaii's middle school sexual health education programs, accusing it of "normalizing anal sex and homosexual behavior." Technically Pono Choices focuses on teen pregnancy and STI prevention, but it does provide insight into "healthy relationships," in which homosexual relationships were included.
Earlier this year, McDermott released a scathing report rather dramatically entitled "THE MCDERMOTT REPORT. The 'Pono Choices' Curriculum: Sexualizing the Innocent." It challenged both the medical accuracy of the program (section 3.1 covers the "Mischaracterization of the Human Anus"—just wow) and the moral accuracy of presenting homosexual relationships and heterosexual relationships as equal and not presenting sex as a purely monogamous, heterosexual act that is fun because it's crucial for the survival of the human species. He raised such an anus-heavy kerfuffle, the state of Hawaii responded.
Despite having the curriculum's medical accuracy and age appropriateness confirmed by a volunteer panel of parents, educators, religious leaders, and health professionals, the state rolled out a few changes, including changing the requirement from an opt-out decision to an opt-in one. So middle school students cannot receive sex ed unless their parents explicitly sign off on it.
Presumably this is a way to engage parents more and provide more transparency, one of points McDermott highlighted in his report. But it certainly makes the jobs of the people trying to do something about Hawaii's high young pregnancy and STI rates as well as the people trying to explain to developing pre-teens that all orientations are normal and okay a lot harder.
Image via AP.