California Teens Lobby School Board for Better Sex Education
A group of Concord, Calif., students is attempting to reduce the rate of HIV infection among area teens by staging a campaign for improved sex education in district classrooms and condom distribution at some schools, the Contra Costa Times reports. The group, called TEAM (Teen Educators, Advocates, Mentors), says that many schools are not following a 1999 state law that requires "medically accurate" sex education, free from "racial, ethnic, and gender bias." On Tuesday, five members of TEAM presented their campaign to the Mt. Diablo Unified School Board, making no "demands" of the board and vowing to return as the fight for their cause continues. The group is part of the Shasta-Diablo chapter of Planned Parenthood and is funded by a grant from the Contra Costa County AIDS Program. Battle Plan Mt. Diablo is in the process of restructuring its health and science curriculum to adhere to the new law, according to Linda Rondeau, district director of curriculum and instruction. TEAM plans to use grassroots campaigning, including postcards and surveys, to get county resident input and support for the program, and, based on their survey of hundreds of area students and national health statistics, hopes to see the school board take action by February. Members of the group come from several area schools and are aware that their agenda may cause controversy. "Either way, (students) are going to have sex," said member Juan Colchado, a high school junior, adding, "It's better if we tell them that if they're going to have sex to protect themselves." The West Contra Costa school district distributes condoms to high school students, but only after they have completed lessons on their proper use and on abstinence. Condoms are not given to students whose parents request they not receive them. The school board has "mixed feelings" about the group's agenda, according to the Contra Costa Times. Although some school board members find it "scar[y]" that over half of newly reported HIV cases occur in people under 25, they remain hesitant to distribute condoms in the schools because they are worried about community reaction. "I don't know if our community is ready for that," said board president Dick Allen. "It may be, but we [would] need their input," he concluded (Shafer, Contra Costa Times, 11/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.