The Chicago public schools are proposing an expansion of the sex education curriculum to include kindergarteners as young as five. Sex education currently starts in fifth grade, as is the case in many schools across the country.
The school system described the new curriculum as a modernized program for children of all ages that will give youngsters the tools they need to make healthy choices.
In defense of its proposal, the school system cited the fact that more than half of its high school students are having sex while Illinois' Cook County ranks number one in the country for sexually transmitted diseases.
According to the school system, the curriculum will be specialized to conform to each age group, with kindergartners through third-graders learning about their anatomy, reproduction in all living creatures, and appropriate and inappropriate touching.
In comparison, fourth-graders will focus on puberty and HIV/AIDs, while fifth-graders will discuss human reproduction, contraception, and abstinence with their teachers.
Reaction to the proposed change was mixed from parents interviewed by local Fox News affiliate WBRC
"I just don't think it's appropriate," parent Melissa Diebold told WBRC. "I don't think it's age appropriate. They have no concept of anything like that at that stage in life."
Another parent, Mark Macklan, agreed.
"CPS shouldn't take control of someone else's children like that with our sex education. That's how I feel," Macklan said.
Not all parents were opposed to the proposed curriculum change.
Mikkel Nance, the father of a second-grader, welcomed school involvement early on, though he believes sex education should begin at home.
"He's in second grade, and we've had introductory conversation on how things work, and how body works," Nance told WBRC. "I do applaud CPS for trying to talk to children early the only concern is how they implement it, and if they involved parents in that process and if they do so they'll make that transition smoothly."
As part of the new policy, the district would address sexual orientation and bullying for the first time, reported Fox News.
Sexologist Dr. Rachael Ross said the school system's proposal is an attempt for the district to keep pace with sex education programs in other developed countries around the world, such as Holland where similar programs are taught to 4-year-olds.
"The parents are kind of in denial about what's happening," Ross says. "You know, in urban populations, the average age that kids start to have sex is between 13 and 14."
The proposal was being presented to the Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday. If approved, the sex education program would be fully implemented by 2016.
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