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SIECUS Report Faults Gaps In Sex-Education Curricula

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Although nearly every state has endorsed teaching sex education in the classroom, the curricula used often omit important information, a report released last week by the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States contends.

Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have passed laws or approved policies that require or recommend sex education in schools, the report says. Of those, 40 have developed sex-education curricula. That represents a dramatic increase from 1986, when only three states required that sex education be taught in the classroom, according to SIECUS.

"We applaud the activity that has been going on in the states, and we are delighted that there is a foundation there,'' said Debra W. Haffner, the executive director of SIECUS.

But there are still "huge information gaps,'' the study argues, with less than 10 percent of children receiving comprehensive sex education at every grade level.

Sex-education classes are more likely to teach about families, abstinence, and anatomy and less likely to teach about sexual behavior, fantasy, homosexuality, and masturbation, the state survey found.

Of the states that have programs in place, six have passed laws specifically prohibiting the teaching of such controversial subjects as contraception and abortion.

"Schools are leaving students unprepared and putting them at risk for unintended pregnancy,'' Ms. Haffner said. "People need to have access to information to help them make healthy choices.''

The report urges more states to require teacher training and certification in sex education. Each state should also designate someone to coordinate sex-education policy and issue guidelines for local schools in developing age-appropriate K-12 curricula, it says.

Copies of the report, "Unfinished Business: A SIECUS Assessment of State Sexuality Education Programs,'' are available for $7.50 each from SEICUS Publications, 130 West 42nd St., Suite 2500, New York, N.Y. 10036.--J.P.

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