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AZ Schools Update Sex-Ed Programs; Planned Parenthood Leads Push for Medically-Accurate Info

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Planned Parenthood Arizona is encouraging school districts to develop a local sex education curriculum. (iStockphoto)
Planned Parenthood Arizona is encouraging school districts to develop a local sex education curriculum. (iStockphoto)
 By Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ - Producer, Contact
June 21, 2016

PHOENIX – Just last week, one Arizona school board voted to update its sex-education curriculum, with input from parents.

Since sex-ed isn't required in Arizona schools, there is inconsistency across the state in how the topic is handled. In the absence of a statewide program, for some years Planned Parenthood Arizona has taken a leadership role, encouraging both consistency and accuracy in sex-education programs, one school district at a time.

According to Jodi Liggett, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona, students need access to accurate, unbiased information to keep them safe.

"The reality is, kids are human beings and it's natural for them to grow and develop in that way, and they're going to make their own decisions," said Liggett. "I mean, we may think we're in charge – but at a certain point, they're in the driver's seat and you are a coach."

The Tucson Unified School District board voted to change its sex-ed curriculum after being approached by students asking for more information in the course.

Liggett said school districts determine their own curriculum for this topic. Phoenix Union is also updating theirs, with input from experts, community leaders, parents and even former students.

Liggett said while teaching abstinence is important, students also need clear, comprehensive information in order to make good life decisions. She said Planned Parenthood's sex-education approach is to keep the information neutral and fact-based.

"Number one, that we're consistent across the state; and then number two, that we're actually protecting kids with medically-accurate information that doesn't come from any particular perspective," she explained.

Liggett added that Planned Parenthood's goal is not to promote its own sex-education program, but ultimately to convince Arizona leaders to adopt a statewide program that ensures consistency.

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