Kansas returns to more moderate sex ed policies

The Kansas board of education on Tuesday repealed sex education policies enacted last year, the latest move by the moderate majority to undo efforts by conservatives when they dominated the board.

BY admin

May 10 2007 12:00 AM ET

The Kansas board
of education on Tuesday repealed sex education policies
enacted last year, the latest move by the moderate majority
to undo efforts by conservatives when they dominated
the board.

One rescinded
policy recommended that schools stress abstinence until
marriage, while the other urged school districts to get
parental permission before allowing students to
attend human sexuality classes.

On a 6–3
vote, the board replaced the policies with one that
recommends "abstinence plus" sex education programs
and leaves it up to the state's 296 school districts
to decide whether to get parental permission.

The "abstinence
plus" program stresses abstinence before marriage
while also urging schools to give students information about
birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted
diseases.

"It's a matter of
emphasis," said chairman Bill Wagnon.

Wagnon said the
goal was "to describe the curriculum standards in
terms of 'it's more than just simply an encouragement of
abstinence,' but we want a balanced and comprehensive
educational program about sex."

But conservative
member Kathy Martin said most parents want the standards
that were enacted last year. "Abstinence until marriage is
the best message we can give our children," Martin
said. She said the old standards "emphasized
self-control over birth control" and the new standards
"fail to give a true picture."

It was the second
major change made by the 6–4 moderate bloc since
it took control in January. Wagnon said the final major
change could come Wednesday if the board hires a new
education commissioner to replace Bob Corkins, hired
by conservatives in 2005. His hiring touched off
criticism because he had no experience as a school
administrator, and he resigned in November after the
new board was elected.

In February the
board repealed science standards backed by social
conservatives and switched to ones that treat evolution as
well-supported by research. The standards, which take
effect next school year, are used to develop tests to
measure how well students learn science.

The old
standards, endorsed by supporters of "intelligent
design," questioned the theory of evolution. (AP)

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