This comes just days after an alarming study came out on American teenagers and sexually transmitted diseases. That federal study found one in four teenager girls has at least one sexually transmitted disease. Parents are asking when should children learn about sex education? How young is too young?
The California State Board of Education has decided that students as young as fifth graders should learn about the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
Four years ago, state legislators passed a law requiring sex education to be "medically accurate, objective and respectful of gay and lesbian youth." Up to now, teachers lack the standards to comply with the law. Advocates say the new standards will not only present important information, but teach California's more than 6 million students the skills necessary to practice safe behavior.
The new guidelines spell it out; fifth graders will learn about STDs, and middle school teachers will talk about rape and sexual assault, and in high school the curriculum includes information about condoms and the morning after pill.
Randy Thomasson of the conservative nonprofit Campaign for Children and Families is already blasting the new sex education curriculum. The C.C.F. opposes abortion and same sex marriage and encourages abstinence as the best protection against sexual disease and unwanted pregnancy. State law however prohibits abstinence only sex education.
It took two years for the board to discuss and agree upon the new curriculum. It is unclear exactly when the fifth grade lessons on STDs will begin, but presumably teachers will need to be trained and new materials acquired. Sex education will be integrated into current health classes about drugs and violence.