New sex-ed video

Oct. 6, 2006, midnight | By Laura Mirviss | 14 years, 3 months ago

In an effort to resolve last year's controversy over the new sex-education curriculum, MCPS released a more clinical condom video that received preliminary approval from prior litigants.

The Citizens Advisory Committee for Family Life and Human Development (CAC), a panel representing both supporters and opponents of including contraception and homosexuality in the 10th-grade health curriculum, voted 12 to one in favor of the proposed video in a meeting on Sept. 13. Once final revisions are made to the video, the committee will discuss two 45-minute lesson plans on homosexuality.

The revised video substitutes a wooden model of a penis for the cucumber used in the old version, and a male voice-over replaces the female narrator. The clip emphasizes that abstinence is "the only way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections."

The latest video is an attempt to resolve the complaints voiced last year. "The new condom video is factual, direct, clinical and professional," said Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC), one of two groups whose lawsuit blocked last year's proposed curriculum. The CRC's preliminary decision to approve the video was based on the fact that it "takes the appeal out of condom use," Turner said.

With Turner's endorsement, the advisory committee suggested further revisions to the video, including tips on how to respond if a condom breaks or is worn incorrectly.

The committee will present its recommendations in early November to MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast. Weast will consider the revised video and pitch his decision to the Board of Education in early January. If approved by the committee and Weast, the video will be piloted later this spring in select high schools.

Some proponents of the video are concerned that it is not comprehensive enough. "The new video is a good starting place, but it needs more information," said Jim Kennedy, a representative on the MCPS advisory committee and a member of Teach the Facts, an organization that promotes fact-based education on contraception.

Kennedy believes the video should also focus on effective condom use, since condoms are 85 percent effective with typical users, but can be extended to 98 percent effective with proper use.

Kennedy said that the original video should not have been so controversial. "It's a video for health class," he said. "The committee made a big deal about a cucumber."

The CRC has not yet considered curriculum changes in eighth and 10th-grade health classes to include homosexuality as a lifestyle choice.

In addition to the video, MCPS has proposed that two class sessions be dedicated to sexual orientation, an idea that Turner is open to on certain conditions. "There needs to be equal time spent discussing risks involved in homosexual acts," she said.

If approved, a 37-page booklet will accompany the new lectures with in-depth teaching explanations.

Laura Mirviss. Laura Mirviss is far more excited than she should be about being on the Chips staff this year. She loves field hockey, lacrosse, The New Yorker, and Ben and Jerry's. When trying to keep things in perspective, Laura likes to remember the words of Ferris … More »

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