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Council Proposes Shift in Sex-Education Curricula

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Sex-education classes should be offering more information about relationships and sexual behaviors, according to a new report on the subject.

The report, which was completed by the Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S., says that typical sex-education courses only focus on reproductive biology and human anatomy, and do not thoroughly discuss the larger issues relating to human sexuality.

Sex-education instruction, it says, is often reduced to "disaster prevention"--efforts to prevent teenagers from getting pregnant or to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, including aids.

Such classes do not prepare teenagers for adult sexual roles and rela4tionships, it charges, and do not acknowledge "the pleasures of intimacy and sexual expression."

"Most programs address the negative consequences of sexual behaviors rather than emphasize that sexuality is a natural and healthy part of life," the report says.

To reverse this situation, it calls on schools, parents, religious groups, and youth groups to provide "comprehensive sexuality education'' to children and teenagers by the year 2000. Such instruction should include scientific, psychological, cultural, behavioral, and spiritual information about human sexuality, the report maintains.

School programs, it says, should include "factual information, oppor8tunities [for students] to examine values and attitudes, preparation for adult roles, and prevention behaviors, and should address both abstinence and safer sex."

The report estimates that fewer than one-sixth of the 23 states that have developed curriculum guides for sex education offer comprehensive instruction in human sexuality.

The report also says that sex-education teachers need more training, and that state education departments "must be available to help communities respond to the opposition sometimes raised by tiny but vocal minorities" to sex education.

The report is based on the proceedings of a conference held last year by siecus that attracted 65 groups concerned with health, education, and sexuality.

Copies of the report, "Sex Education 2000: A Call to Action," are available for $12.00 each plus $1.80 for postage and handling, from siecus, Publications Department, 32 Washington Place, New York, N.Y. 10003.--ef

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