Six weeks after the Shenendehowa Board of Education opened the door for Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson to come back to teach part of a sex education unit, Shenendehowa teachers are content to teach the unit themselves.
During a sex education controversy that lasted for the better part of a year, Shenendehowa health teachers restructured their sex education curriculum to teach a three-day segment themselves that Planned Parenthood educators used to teach.
“The lesson went very well last year. They’re very happy with the way it went and they didn’t feel there was a need to go back,” said district spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani.
The plan didn’t specifically give Planned Parenthood the green light, but the organization took it as a sign that its relationship with Shenendehowa schools would continue, though there’s no timeline to do so.
“We’ve had a strong relationship with Shenendehowa health teachers and students for two decades,” said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Linda Scharf.
The controversy started last fall, when the school district uninvited Planned Parenthood educators to teach the segment for the fall and spring semesters after getting complaints from a group of parents that some students felt harassed or belittled in the classes, especially for having conservative beliefs about sex.
Later, other parents and community members were upset that the district quietly pulled the program and demanded that Planned Parenthood be allowed to come back, saying its program is beneficial to students because the educator is a fresh face and a person knowledgeable about sexual health. The program is approved by the state Department of Health, Planned Parenthood officials have said.
The district formed a health advisory committee to study the issue, while parents who favor a stronger abstinence education program made their own group called Shen Parents Choice Coalition.
The health advisory committee unveiled its recommendations in early June, advocating the district teach abstinence, communication skills and update possibly outdated statistics about pregnancy and birth control. The board approved the new policy Aug. 28.
Scharf said it makes sense that the teachers would keep teaching the entire unit themselves this year, since the decision was made shortly before school started.
“I believe teachers had their curriculum and planning in place already.”
Planned Parenthood educators give a three-day lesson on anatomy, abstinence, birth control, sexually transmitted infections and healthy relationships. Shenendehowa’s sexual health unit lasts for 10 days total.
Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson educators teach the unit in 45 public schools in 12 counties.
The organization also offers sex education information for parents and teens on its website, www.plannedparenthood.org/ppmh/.