WICHITA — Kansas Board of Education members aren’t sure just how much sex they want in sex education.
Meeting Tuesday in a Wichita high school, the board was poised for another battle over sex education. Supporters and opponents of a proposal to require “abstinence-only” education came armed with experts and studies that each side said proved their point.
But details of the proposal grew murkier as the debate wore on, and any effect it would have on local schools was uncertain, at best.
Last month board member Kathy Martin of Clay Center offered the proposal to require sex education that focuses on abstinence and the flaws of contraceptives, the dangers of sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy.
But on Tuesday, Martin said it would be up to local school districts to decide the specifics, as long as they stress that abstinence is the best way to avoid the negative consequences of teen sex.
When sex-education teachers who came to protest Martin’s proposal said they already talk about abstinence and the dangers of teen sex, it became unclear what difference, if any, the proposal would make.
“At this point I’m highly confused,” said board member Sue Gamble of Shawnee.
Part of the confusion is over the term “abstinence.” In addition to “abstinence-only” sex education, there also is “abstinence-plus,” “abstinence-based” and “abstinence-until-marriage.”
Then there is the question of how abstentious abstinence is. Intercourse is out, clearly. But what about oral sex? Fondling? And if contraceptives are brought up, should students learn their proper usage, or just their flaws?
And what about babies born in the winter? Their brothers and sisters know that cabbages don't grow in the garden at that time. What about that?