Sex education program draws more criticism

Published On: Nov 18 2013 07:22:00 PM HST

Pono Choices is a sex education program has been approved for use in Hawaii middle schools.

The locally-developed curriculum uses student actors and Hawaiian values educators hope our teens can relate to.

The program's designed to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually- transmitted diseases.

But some parents raised a red flag over references to same-sex couples in student worksheets.

Others thought things got too descriptive.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

"That did not have me as nearly concerned as much as one where they describe a sex act that I will not put on TV. And it had a child writing that out, and that blew me away," said Kathy Kamauu, a retired school teacher and grandmother of 13.

Now, a Maui principal says he isn't comfortable with one of the graphic demonstrations that encourages students to put a condom onto a wooden replica.

"To me, that is going too far. That is demonstrating the how-to part.

And to me that is not abstinence. Abstinence means educating you on not having sex,”  said Maui Waena Intermediate School Principal Jaime Yap.

Yap says he is fine with a teacher doing the demonstration but he thinks having students involved crosses the line.

He is also trying to be proactive by asking his parents to sign off on having their child involved in the program. It's a type of active consent rather rather than implied consent to have their child sit out the program.

The DOE's deputy superintendent of curriculum defended Pono Choices, saying it has been vetted by using Center of Disease Control standards.

As for the parents’ concerns:

"We have taken the concern to the people who have written the curriculum and right now we are going through that feedback process," said Leila Hiyashida.

The team that developed the program hopes the positive messages of Pono Choices doesn’t get drowned out in the criticism as the program rolls out in other schools.

"I would encourage parents to communicate with their administrators to talk about the curriculum," Hayashida said.

Data about the program’s effectiveness is still being collected, but Pono Choices was added to the approved list of curriculum, and it will be available for use in all middle schools next year.


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