Tulsa Public Schools looks to expand sex education

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Sex education could soon be expanding in Tulsa Public Schools.

The school board is set to vote on Tuesday on whether to approve a comprehensive pregnancy prevention curriculum for 7th, 9th and 11th graders. If approved, the voluntary program would start this fall, according to a story published Tuesday in the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/17wAczw ).

Steve Mayfield, director of constituent and student affairs at TPS, said parental consent would be required for any student to participate.

The program would be piloted at Webster High School, Clinton Middle School and Memorial Junior High and High School. Four more schools would be added in January. Local donors would fund the program, Mayfield said.

Mayfield said the curriculum’s first priority is abstinence, but that it also shows HIV and disease rates.

He acknowledged how revolutionary the program may seem to some. The topic of sex has been taboo in the district up until a couple of years ago.

“I can’t remember it ever being a topic in TPS – even embedded in a biology class or something before,” said Mayfield, who has worked at TPS for most of the last 45 years.

Mayfield said the goal is to target every child with the program unless their parents opt out.

Youth Services of Tulsa, the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Tulsa City-County Health Department would provide the curriculum for the program, which is titled “Making Proud Choices: A Safer Sex Approach to HIV/STDs and Teen Pregnancy Prevention.”

Kimberly Schutz, director of the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, said more programming is needed because Oklahoma now has the fourth-highest teen birth rate in the country. She said four zip codes in Tulsa have teen birth rates that are more than double the national average.

Lana Turner-Addison, a school board member who represents much of north Tulsa, said there are many schools that could benefit from the program.

“Being a teen mom myself, I appreciate the need for this,” she said.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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