Forest Hills changing abstinence-only sex ed curriculum

Posted at 10:31 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 22:31:56-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Forest Hills Public Schools has decided to make changes to its sex education program, pulling the plug on its "abstinence only" curriculum.  The changes were announced at a Monday board meeting.

The Pregnancy Resource Center was at the heart of the issue.  For the past 15 years, concerned parents say they've been teaching abstinence only. Some parents say students were even sent home with virginity pledge cards.

"What they were doing here was 'abstinence only' education," said parent Kristyn VanderZouwen, "and that's just not giving our kids the whole picture."

Advocates of comprehensive sex education say the lessons prevent sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies.  Some parents who stepped up to the microphone at Monday night's meeting said they had no idea an abstinence-only curriculum was being taught at Forest Hills. They said they should have found out before hearing about it at the board meeting.

The leader of the Pregnancy Resource Center says they were in favor of teaching an abstinence based curriculum instead of abstinence-only but says the school district wouldn't allow them.

"It was Forest Hills solely who asked us not to teach from the abstinence-based plan," said Jim Sprague, president of the Pregnancy Resource Center. "We couldn't even utter the word condom in the classrooms. That is what we were instructed to do for the last 15 years."

Forest Hills Superintendent Dan Behm says that using the state's model for sex education will let let teachers teach the more comprehensive subject of sex education. "What the board decided tonight was to let [Forest Hills Public Schools]-certified teachers provide that state mandated program," Behm said.

The abstinence based curriculum that the district is adopting will include a lesson on contraception.  Behm says that parents can have their children opt out of the sex education curriculum and that students can still receive lessons from the Pregnancy Resource Center if they choose to but will have to do so outside of the school.