Parents demand change to sex ed curriculum in schools

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Parents are demanding change to the sex ed curriculum presented in schools after the story that aired on ABC Action News.

Duck, duck, chlamydia? Parents fuming over Pinellas Co. sex ed program in schools

The story featured a Pinellas County mom who was upset about a religious Christian faith group with ties to a pro-life pregnancy center that goes into public middle and high schools in Pinellas County to speak with students. 

A group of parents are now joining together to vouch for more comprehensive sex education being taught by what they consider less biased sources. 

The parents say they want a more inclusive, evidence-based, comprehensive sex education for their kids, which addresses sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy in a way that does not "scare" their kids. 

Alyce Tsikouris is one of those parents. The Tarpon Springs mom has a son in 7th grade.

“It made me really angry. I want my son to know exactly what’s going on with his body, and the choice he will have when he gets into a relationship with a girl, and I don't want anyone to sugarcoat those things," she explained.

Julia Sharp, who has younger daughters ages 2 and 4, agrees.

“To be taught something that is shame based or fear based is not something I would want my kids to participate in. I was upset to say the least.”

Those moms are joining together to form an Adolescent Sexual Health Collaborative to make sure kids are getting scientifically backed information which will help them make more informed decisions about sex.

“That doesn’t mean encouraging kids to go out and have sex, but giving them the power and tools to do what’s best for them," explained Sharp.

“We definitely want to see policy change at the local and state level," chimed in Linsey Grove, who recently received her PHD in public health and is helping the group create this change.

Grove added, “Comprehensive sex ed is about teaching medically accurate information, and also creating a culture where sex is talked about in a safe and positive way so students feel comfortable with their own health and sexuality.”

Jason Dorr, the director of More2Life, which teaches the abstinence-based program in schools, says their program does not discuss religion.

"Our message is completely a health message,” Dorr explained.

Dorr adds, in line with Florida rules, they encourage abstaining from sex before marriage. The organization has spent 19 years talking to students about the consequences of STDs and teen pregnancy. 

“We always make this clear: We are not here to tell you what to do. This is an option for your life and we want to present that to you so you can make your own choices," Dorr added. “We are teaching them to have a healthy life and reach their goals without the consequences that can affect their future, so it's adding to what they're already learning at home.”

In one presentation the leaders from the group More 2 Life told students, “Sex is like fire. It's safe in its proper context like a committed marriage, just like it's safe in a fireplace.” In another, while speaking about the high rate of STDs, a leader told students, "Have you ever played duck, duck, goose? Now it's like duck, duck, chlamydia." 

Dorr says that curriculum helps the kids make the right choices. “A lot of times students don’t live for the future, they live for the moment. We are trying to help them look further ahead and not deal with those consequences.”

Parents say they don't feel like the curriculum has a place in schools and that's why they're now fighting for change.

They will meet May 8th at 2:30 P.M. at the Pinellas County Health Department in St. Petersburg.

The Pinellas County School district says students are able to opt out of the presentations and all students take home an opt out form before the presentation is made in their class. The district is also currently reviewing the More2Life content to make sure it’s appropriate. 

You can read the original ABC Action News story here. 

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