A newly proposed bill could change the way students learn about sex in the classroom. House Bill 88 may eventually give North Carolina parents a choice about what their kids are taught in sex education classes. One area school district has already given parents options, and it seems to be going over well. Before students even enter health class in New Hanover County, parents have the first say. When it comes to sex education, this permission slip is key. Parents can either opt to have their students learn the traditional abstinence until marriage curriculum or a more comprehensive sex ed lesson plan. They also can choose not to take sex ed at all. "It helps with their values. I think it gives them a better choice of what fits their family and it gives them the opportunity to talk to their kids,” said Kiersten Wildeboer the New Hanover County Health Director. New Hanover County parents have had the choice of how they want their students to learn about sex since 1993. Before, students only received a comprehensive lesson, which focuses on sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptives and their failure rates. Abstinence-only promotes the safest way to avoid teen pregnancy and STDs, and that is by not having sex until marriage. “I'd rather them get the specific information, updated information and correct information through these programs than on the street,” Wildeboer added. Wildeboer said the need for sex education is apparent when you look at teen pregnancies across our area. In 2007, New Hanover County reported more than 300 teen pregnancies, while both Brunswick and Columbus counties reported just over a hundred. When, and if, House Bill 88 passes, the choice for parents in Brunswick County will remain an abstinence-only curriculum. "We are waiting and seeing what happens at the state level. I'm sure it will have some impact here at the local level,” said Joyce Beatty, the Brunswick County Executive Director of Personnel. All sex education classes in our area begin at the middle school level. Across the state, about a dozen school districts offer comprehensive sex education.
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