Sex Education in Public Schools Take Center Stage at Legislature

Lisa Jensen
Lisa Jensen

MOANALUA (KHNL)- Sex education in Hawaii's schools is getting attention at the State Capitol. Currently schools are required to teach both abstinence and contraception. Under a bill now being considered, organizations that teach only one or the other would lose state funding. "Try Wait" and Planned Parenthood are two local organizations on opposite sides of the issue. Try wait teaches kids about abstinence, but doesn't tell them how to use condoms.

"I think it sends a mixed message because were telling children that abstinence is the healthiest choice for them, said Lisa Jensen, "Try Wait" Program Director. "For us to come in after we teach about abstinence and say, oh by the way, go ahead and use contraception if you can't remain abstinent, that's a mixed message."

"If these youngsters chose to become sexually active, they need to have some information about those consequences," said Annele Amaral of Planned Parenthood. "The try wait program doesn't deal with that information."

Some think that 11 years old is too early to begin teaching sex education. But kids here are asking questions. One girl wanted to know if she could get pregnant if she only had sex for 30 seconds.

Hawaii's public schools require teaching of both abstinence and contraception, but not necessarily by the same people. If a bill under consideration by lawmakers passes, "Try Wait," which only teaches abstinence would no longer get state money.

"I think that's a crying shame, I think the legislators that are supporting it really need to visit a middle school," said Caroline Wong, Principal of Moanalua Middle School. And really take a look at the kids to see what the greater need is."

Planned Parenthood says it currently gets less money, but has to do more.

"That doesn't seem fair," said Amaral.

"All were asking to allow for our program to keep the possibility of funding open for the future," said Jensen.

Lawmakers will consider the bill next week.