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Washington guidelines call for accuracy in sex education

Washington guidelines call for accuracy in sex education

The Washington State health department and Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction have issued voluntary guidelines for sex education in the state's public schools. The five-page "Guidelines for Sexual Health Information and Disease Prevention" recommend medically and scientifically accurate information about the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, including that abstinence is the only certain way to avoid both. The guidelines were developed in response to a bipartisan request from 41 legislators last year. Sex education is optional for Washington's public schools. However, HIV education is required beginning in fifth grade. "We think districts will be pleased to have a set of best practices for fine-tuning their programs," said David Brine at the Washington State School Directors Association. "They can take this as a foundation and work with their communities to craft the best approach for the culture of their district." The guidelines cite research by Douglas Kirby of California-based Education, Training, Research Associates that found that comprehensive sex education--including information about sexuality, STDs, prevention of unwanted pregnancy, and a "clear message about abstinence"--was most effective. The guidelines call for age-appropriate information, including development of good communication skills and encouragement of healthy and meaningful relationships. (AP)

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