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Hawaii: board of ed passes new sex-ed requirement.

On June 16, 2015, the State of Hawaii Board of Education passed Sexual Health Education Policy 103.5, regulation that has the force of law in requiring sexuality education in Hawaii public schools. The policy emphasizes five main points of focus, ensuring that education:

"(1) Includes education on abstinence, contraception, and methods of infection prevention to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection, including human immunodeficiency virus; (2) Helps students develop relationships and communication skills to form healthy relationships that are based on mutual respect and affection and are free from violence, coercion and intimidation; (3) Helps students develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, decision making and stress management to make healthy decisions about sexuality and relationships; (4) Encourages students to communicate with their parents, guardians, and/or other trusted adults about sexuality; and (5) Informs students of available community resources."

Hawaii's new sexuality education policy emphasizes that students should receive sexual health education that is "age appropriate [and] medically accurate." The policy requires that a description of the curriculum be made available to parents and posted on the school's website prior to instruction. In addition, it includes a provision that will allow parents to opt their children out of instruction.

Up until this point, sexuality education was not mandatory in Hawaii. This new policy is the culmination of years of advocacy, controversy, concern, and changes.

Hawaii's new sexuality education policy will replace Policy 2110, Abstinence-Based Education Policy, passed in 1995, which required schools to choose a curriculum from a list of seven curricula that had been pre-approved by the Board of Education. At that time, many public high schools in Hawaii used abstinence-only-until-marriage programs developed by Catholic Charities.

The Executive Director of Hawaii Youth Services Network told SIECUS that Hawaii did not receive the same funding this year. "So ironic," she says, "we have this great new policy and won't have funds to implement it." She assures that work will still be done regarding teen pregnancy.

Data strongly supports the need for the new Sexual Health Education Policy. Hawaii had the largest drop in abortion rates from 2010 to 2014 (a decrease of almost 30%), which Hawaii-Planned Parenthood's government relations director explained was a result of Hawaii's sexuality education policies [requiring sexuality education to be medically accurate] because students were learning the information they needed to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy. Hawaii's teen pregnancy rate was the 10th highest in the United States in 2010; this rate has also been decreasing.

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Publication:SIECUS Developments
Date:Jun 22, 2015
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