The dismally low graduation rate for students who attend Chicago Public Schools is barely over 60 percent – substantially lower than the national rate of roughly 75 percent. Nevertheless, citizens of the Second City will surely take heart, because the Chicago Board of Education just passed a new policy that requires sex education to begin in kindergarten.
The new policy, which was passed on Wednesday, according to ABC News, is part of a broader makeover of the school district’s sexual health program,
Sometime within the next two years, students in every grade, including kindergarten, will be required to spend a certain amount of time on the birds and the bees.
Mandated sex-ed for Chicago kindergartners will include instruction about male and female anatomy and reproduction. It’s not clear exactly how much detail five- and six-year-olds will be taught concerning the more sophisticated uses of their genitals.
By the time students get to third and fourth grade, the focus will include appropriate and inappropriate touching, as well as puberty and HIV/AIDS.
Coursework from fifth grade to 12th grades will concentrate on sexually-transmitted diseases and contraception. Abstinence will reportedly be presented as a possible method of birth control. Sexual orientation, gender identity and bullying related to those things will also be part of the curriculum at some point from fifth grade to 12th grade, as well.
One of the stated goals of the policy is to bring the Chicago Public Schools into accord with the national HIV/AIDS strategy of the Obama administration, notes ABC.
“It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships,” Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.
Response from parents who have children in the Chicago Public Schools was mixed, reports Fox News.
“I don’t think its age-appropriate,” parent Melissa Diebold told MyFoxChicago.com. “They have no concept of anything like that at that stage in life.”
Mikkel Nance, another parent, is more optimistic.
“[T]he only concern is how they implement it, and if they involved parents in that process and if they do so they’ll make that transition smoothly,” Nance told the local Fox affiliate.
Parents can remove their children from the sexual health education program if they want, but the apparent default is for kindergartners to learn about sex.
Chicago’s public school system is the nation’s third-largest school district, with approximately 431,000 students.