Some Alaska students seek more sex ed

Posted: Thursday, October 02, 2008

ANCHORAGE - A number of college and high school students in Anchorage are petitioning for comprehensive sex education in schools.

University of Alaska Anchorage junior Amber Sawyer heads a group called Vox, Voices for Planned Parenthood. It is circulating a Planned Parenthood petition that has collected 1,100 names since late August.

"I know exactly how bad the sex ed was, because I sat through it too," says the 20-year-old Palmer Colony High graduate. "We were not informed."

It's the same for many others, she said.

"I met one girl from the Bush who didn't even know what a condom was," she said.

Planned Parenthood Chief executive Clover Simon would like schools to provide more than abstinence-only information. She says they should provide sexual function and health information that is medically accurate and age-appropriate.

Alaska now leaves sex ed to individual school districts. Shirley Holloway of the State Board of Education and Early Development said it has a history of deferring on sex education.

Anchorage superintendent Carol Comeau said there might be a way to attach a sex-ed unit to the already required high school health class.

"At this point, there has not been an official request," she said. But "I am more than willing to have the health curriculum committee look at that issue."

"It's a very controversial issue in so many places because a lot of parents don't want the schools doing it at all, others parents absolutely want the schools to do it. And then you've got a lot of people in between," she said.

Anchorage now follows an "abstinence-plus" model, taught in the eighth grade, that parents can opt their kids out of. It stresses abstinence as the only way to guarantee protection against sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

Teachers also teach kids about what to do if they don't choose abstinence.

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