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Study: K-12 Sex-Ed Program has Positive Impact on OH District

April 12, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - With lesson plans starting in kindergarten, it's definitely not your parents' Sex-Ed class, but school district leaders in Cleveland say their comprehensive sexual education program is proving to be a success. An evaluation of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's K-through-12 "Responsible Sexual Behavior Initiative" has found a positive effect on pupils, with lessons that focus on health, behavior, communication and prevention.

Lois Reisinger, who teaches the program as a health and physical education teacher at Marion Seltzer Elementary, says the material is valuable for the kids.

"It gives them some great tools to be able to make some good choices in their lives. You don't always know for sure if they're getting this at home and sometimes, a lot of the stuff that they pick up from their friends and on the street is just not correct."

Lita Townsend is the Responsible Sexual Behavior supervisor for the District. Besides teaching abstinence, she says, it's important to make sure kids know all their options, and the program includes age-appropriate lessons that are cumulative.

"From seventh and eighth grade up through high school, what we're starting to see is that they're retaining that information, because they've had a nice foundation for it, from the very beginning."

Townsend believes teacher training and support has been critical to the program's success. She knows these kinds of lessons will always be seen as controversial for some, but she hopes other districts consider the program as well.

"If we can take programs like this and customize them and gear them to our needs and the needs of our students, and make them school-appropriate, it makes the whole world of comprehensive sexuality education look a lot less scary."

In the evaluation, students showed improvements in overall knowledge, attitudes and behavioral intent in regard to sexual education. It also highlighted the importance of support from parents and community partners as well as schools. The evaluation was commissioned by the AIDS Funding Collaborative.

Information about the evaluation is at www.aidsfundingcollaborative.org


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH