Friday, November 18, 2005


Some parents upset over sex booklet in schools

Thursday, November 10, 2005
The Sun Star

STRONGSVILLE _ An informational booklet that describes the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases and contains phone numbers for Planned Parenthood and confidential reproductive health services has raised protests after it was placed in students' lockers throughout the district.

City resident Theresa Fleming said her 11-year-old son, a sixth-grader at Kinsner Elementary School, was among those who received a copy of the booklet, Youth Pages, A Guide for Cuyahoga County Teens published by United Way's 211 First Call For Help.

She said the booklet, which also provides information on the need for parental consent for abortion and a Web address for the Lesbian/Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland, is inappropriate for 11-year-olds.

I believe some sex education needs to be given, but when subjects are discussed or material is given to kids of this nature, a notice should be sent home to the parent and they should be allowed to opt out of the program if they wish, Fleming said.

School Superintendent James Gray said he gave an OK for the pocket-sized directories, which were provided to the district by United Way Services in conjunction with the county health department and county commissioners, to be given to students at the high school, middle schools and to sixth graders.

Gray said he received two calls from parents who took exception to the booklet's content.

I understand that and probably, in retrospect, I should have considered sending a letter along with it as far as an explanation, he said, adding, this is a developing situation. I don't know what we are going to do at this point.

Colleen Grady, a city resident and a member of the state school board, said she got calls from four parents concerned about their children getting the directory.

Grady, who is also a former city school board member, said she has not personally seen the publication, but they (parents) read me sections over the telephone.

She said the state board of education may wish to make a legislative recommendation to the Ohio general assembly, and the board could also consider discussion about adoption of a model policy for the distribution of such materials.

Gray said there will be continued discussion, in the district's curriculum and pupil services departments on whether to curtail distribution of materials which are considered to be sensitive, particularly for the younger kids.

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