State lawmaker criticizes controversial sex ed program - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State lawmaker criticizes controversial sex ed program

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A sex education program that stirred controversy among parents for the material's so-called graphic descriptions has called the attention of a state lawmaker.

Hawaii Rep. Bob McDermott said he asked the state to see the curriculum of Pono Choices, a teen pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infection prevention program, but was denied.

"It's outrageous that a state legislator, as an elected official and a father of public school children, I cannot get this information," McDermott said. "They cannot trust me with it, but they trust 11-year-old children."

The University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies created Pono Choices, a teen pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infection prevention curriculum. Taught in 12 schools to more than 1,700 middle school students in the state Department of Education system, the optional program has been criticized by parents for the material's descriptions of sex acts and infections.

"Things like this to seventh-graders, 12-year-old girls and boys? That's wrong to me," said Kainoa Iranon, a parent whose son is a seventh-grade student at Niu Valley Middle School, one of the participating schools.

But after the DOE reviewed the course, it found it to be medically accurate, appropriate and aligned with state law.

"It is aligned with the DOE standards and policies, and it really actually is encouraging abstinence as the guaranteed way of not getting pregnant or contracting an STI," said Center statistician Tammy Tom.

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Pono Choice sex ed course concerns some parents