D150 Wants Buy-In To New Sex Ed Policy

"We have morals, but that's neither here nor there. This is a health crisis."

Peoria School District 150 Director of Special Education, Maureen Langholf, says that is why the district is changing it's sex education policy. Not to mention a new state law requiring the change and the possibility of some grant money from the State Board of Education and the Centers for Disease Control to help pay for the curriculum.

The main change adds contraception to what's taught in addition to abstinence.

Langholf tells WMBD's Greg and Dan administrators are not the only ones who will determine the new curriculum. Langholf says health teachers are also being brought to the table.

"They're the ones who will be teaching this every day," Langholf says. "Their voice and their input is critical to this whole situation."

"The base is education in the classroom," Langholf explains, "then the medical professionals handle the rest."

District 150 already has a partnership with the Peoria City/County Health Department and UnityPoint Health-Methodist. UnityPoint Health-Methodist currently operates in-school health clinics at Manual Academy, Harrison Community Learning Center and Trewyn School.

Data from 2012 shows Peoria County with the third highest number of cases of STI's (Sexually Transmitted Infections) among 15-to-19 year olds in the state - behind Cook County and the City of Chicago.

At the same time, the birth rate in Peoria County among 15-to-19 year olds was 9.5 percent. The teen birth rate was up dramatically in three zip codes - 61603 (17 percent), 61604 (12 percent) and 61605 (15.3 percent).

District 150 is also looking at similar revisions going on in Chicago, Springfield, Rockford and Decatur to compare notes on how schools there are handling the effort.

Langholf says the goal is to have the new sex ed curriculum in pilot middle schools next spring and then to the high schools next fall.

Langholf admits the new curriculum needs buy-in from "community stakeholders," including parents.

"If you teach (students) through the classroom in the right way, I think we'll have parents on board," Langholf says. "Parents can opt out if they don't want their students to participate."


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