GRPS to teach inclusive sex ed, move away from abstinence-based program

Posted at 5:42 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 18:00:56-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The movement to teach more inclusive sex education has arrived in West Michigan: as of this school year, the Grand Rapids Public Schools will no longer teach an abstinence-based curriculum.

GRPS is launching a new sex ed program based on the Michigan Model for Health curriculum, and include supplemental resources, to replace the former Willing to Wait abstinence-based program.

Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal told FOX 17 Friday this move comes after year-long careful consideration by the district's sex ed committee. The committee follows state guidelines and is a 15-member group comprised of clergy, students, staff and parents, who reviewed curriculum. Ultimately, they presented their decision to the school board to move toward a more comprehensive curricula.

“To say that [abstinence] is the only way that you have to live your life, that is not what the committee decided, that was obviously an option, but they decided not to go that route and I want to respect and honor what the committee decided, which is what the state of Michigan asked to do," said Weatherall Neal. "They said put together a committee with clergy and students and parents and that’s what we did. They became the voice of this community.”

The Michigan Model focuses on more social and emotional components, and includes lessons on adoption, budgeting and caring for a child, and how to stand up to bullying and peer pressure.

“It’s not just about sex ed, it really is how do you make great choices?" explained Weatherall Neal. "It’s about making choices, and for students in the Grand Rapids Public Schools one of the things we want to do is to provide them with as much information as possible so that they can make those decisions that are best for them."

Weatherall Neal says the district is working on writing their new program and adding supplemental resources to the Michigan Model sex ed program to be implemented this year.