Tri-City Sexual Education
TRICITIES, Wash. - Sexual education is a controversial topic throughout the United States.
Public schools districts are forced to teach sexual education and have to deal with many different opinions from parents and community leaders.
In the Tri-Cities each district varies, but basically the students are taught an abstinence-based program that stresses the only way to be completely safe is to not have sex at all.
School district officials said they rely heavily on the parents to educate their children about sex at home.
Tri-City students come from different religions, back rounds and experiences.
Statistics show that some young adults will abstain from sex until they are married, but most will not.
Benton Franklin County Health Department Official Heather Hill said, "Through data we have a very sexually active teenage population on up through the adult years."
Richland School District Official Shelley Redinger said, "Abstinence is really the focus not saying that we don't talk about the issues, but we really want that line between parents responsibility and school responsibility and having parents have those discussions at home."
Kennewick School District Official Bev Henderson said, "We always stress abstinence first because that the only way to be 100 percent. We talk about condoms, but say they are not 100 percent effective, abstinence is."
Washington public schools are forced to teach HIV/AIDS prevention to 5th through 12th graders.
Henderson said it is very different to find appropriate videos on the topic because many of them reference condoms too strongly or show how to put a condom on.
Kamiakin health teacher Sandra Morgan said, "We do not show videos of a condom used or how to use a condom. I will talk about a condom if it's brought up but I won't demonstrate how to put one on or how to use it."
Morgan stands behind the abstinence based sexual education and said she teaches what her district tells her to teach.
Morgan said, "I hope when my grand kids get into high school that an abstinence program is being taught to them."
Sexual education or health class is only a very small part of the curriculum, which is discussed for only a handful of days per year.
Recent data from the health department showed an increase in teenage sexually transmitted diseases and Franklin County is almost tied with Yakima in second place when it comes to teen pregnancy.
Hill said, "The type of message that is out there right now obviously hasn't done a lot to change behavior or reduce risk. It's so important to get the message that hey condom use is okay it's okay to use condoms. They do work when used correctly. They can prevent disease but that isn't a message that's been comfortable in America."
Tri-City school districts said that this is a very conservative part of the state. They believe it is a parent's responsibility to talk to their children about sex.