Aclu response to ‘SEx Education’ Cover Story
LEO’s Oct. 21 cover story “Sex Education: Why all JCPS students need comprehensive sexual education while only some of them are getting it” highlighted the fractured nature of sexual education within Jefferson County Public Schools. That is why The Center for Women and Families, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Concerned Clergy for Choice, the Fairness Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky formed the Louisville Sex Education Now (LSEN) coalition. While exceptional teachers like Ms. Wurst highlight the need to give students a space to ask questions, address their apprehensions about sex and talk about their relationships, all too often the majority of students are left with questions, and yearning for more information while their teachers shy away from this particular subject.
That is why LSEN is working to advance comprehensive guidelines for all JCPS middle and high schools on the content and type of sexuality education that all students should receive. These guidelines would advise School-Based Decision Making councils (SBDMs) that sexual education should include information not just about reproduction, contraceptives and abstinence, but should also address sexual violence, consent, healthy relationships, self-esteem and domestic violence.
Teens deserve a space to receive this information and guidance about how not just having sex, but also, smoking, drinking and taking drugs can impact their futures. This type of instruction is not only helpful, but vital to the health and well-being of our community. Louisville has some Metro Council Districts where one in 10 teens will become pregnant before they turn 20. Unfortunately, the best sexual education in JCPS is either scattershot or reserved for young women in the Teenage Parent Program, who are already mothers. This information and instruction should be available to all students in JCPS regardless of which school they attend.
That said, LSEN does not advocate for a one size fits all approach, nor are we advocating for one particular curriculum. We value the SBDM’s role and wisdom in deciding which program or curriculum is best for their students. While some schools may want to focus on delaying the onset of sexual activity, others may want to focus on healthy relationships, while others may see a need to focus on increasing the use of contraception.
LSEN has already met with JCPS school board members and administrators, teachers, students and parents to discuss a guideline structure that has enough flexibility for schools to decide what to address with their students, while also giving concrete guidance on the material that must be covered. We want to continue to hear from members of the community about their ideas and concerns. LSEN’s next community forum is set for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 6 p.m. at Planned Parenthood’s offices at 1025 S. 2nd St. JCPS Board Member Dr. Lisa Wilner will help lead the discussion.
—Derek Selznick, ACLU of Kentucky, Reproductive Freedom Project Director