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Pono Choices sex ed no longer automatic

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 03:35 p.m. HST, Jun 06, 2014

Parents will now have to opt their children in to participate in the controversial middle-school sex education pilot program, Pono Choices, which was undergoing a second review amid complaints from some lawmakers and parents about it being medically inaccurate and inappropriate for students as young as 11 years old.

The move to an opt-in versus opt-out decision is one of a dozen changes the Department of Education announced Friday, when it released a report by a working group convened in February to review Pono Choices.

Pono Choices, billed as a "culturally responsive" teen pregnancy and disease prevention program, has been under fire since last year's special session on gay marriage for classifying the anus as genitalia and including explicit lessons that allegedly minimize dangers associated with anal sex.

The program was developed and is owned by the University of Hawaii-Manoa's Center on Disability Studies.

It was implemented in five schools this past semester.

The working group's report makes 11 recommendations to improve the curriculum and address concerns, including: characterization of the anus as a genital; increasing information about the risks of anal sex; and improvements to the Parent Night Guide to provide more transparency to families about the curriculum to inform decision-making.

"Let's not forget that the goal of this curriculum and our sexual health education standards, Board (of Education) policies, and state laws, is to reduce unintended teen pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV," schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a statement. "Given the statistics about Hawaii's youth — the rate of sexual activity, failure to use protection, rate of pregnancy, and the spread of disease — we must work together to ensure students are educated to make better choices."

The DOE briefly halted the program for two weeks last year before reinstating it in December after a department review deemed it medically accurate and aligned with state law and DOE policy. The department then convened a working group Feb. 20 to further evaluate the program.

The DOE said schools will not implement Pono Choices until the department has received a revised version of the curriculum for review and approval.

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8082062424 wrote:
That seem more then fair. it should be by choice not forced on students. this way if the parents are student want to take the program they can sign up
on June 6,2014 | 02:50PM
DinoMax wrote:
It was never forced on the students or parents on the original implmentation. Everyone had a choice to opt out.
on June 6,2014 | 03:18PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
It was never "forced" on students. Parents ALWAYS had the ability to opt out. Stop repeating the lie... it doesn't make it any more true.
on June 6,2014 | 04:05PM
Ewaduffer wrote:
But parents should not have had to opt out in the first place. It should have been an elective subject in the first place.
on June 6,2014 | 04:13PM
lwandcah wrote:
Exactly! Someone finally has done something that actually makes sense regarding this whole issue. I would hope that the parents would get an actual indication of what exactly is going to be covered so that they can make an educated decision.
on June 6,2014 | 05:22PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
And they can teach their children by example, such as having sex w a man who is not Daddy in front if a 5 year old!
on June 6,2014 | 07:30PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
And according to the article, they have now made that change.
on June 6,2014 | 08:56PM
kukui_nut wrote:
"Forced" may be a bit strong. How about "coerced," or "pressured?"
on June 6,2014 | 04:18PM
8082062424 wrote:
well green in school there are mandatory classes and electives. this class was mandatory. which mean is was forced on 11 year olds. fact green no lies. most parents had no idea how off base this program was until the child had the class. yes parents could opt out but the truth is doe hid some real core facts of the programs so parents had no idea what it was about
on June 6,2014 | 04:57PM
Winston wrote:
What you describe is yet another incidence of the bureaucratic state acting on the assumption that it has the right to displace parental guidance and authority. I'm pretty sure that a parent who wanted to see the curriculum material before making the opt out decision would have faced a good bit of bureaucratic resistance/friction. That's the way the nanny state works. While they can't legally say no, they can and erect barriers.
on June 6,2014 | 05:25PM
jomama wrote:
how about post the curriculum and materials online?
on June 6,2014 | 06:41PM
8082062424 wrote:
Doe felt parents would not be able to under stand it right . they needed it explain to them by a expert
on June 6,2014 | 07:57PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Information of this sort should require parental approval before being taught to kids, it's just plain common sense. They get permission for field trips but not to teach children about anal sex? It's all just crazy, makes you wonder what idiot is making the decisions at the DOE ... oh that's right Matayoshi.
on June 6,2014 | 06:30PM
HanabataDays wrote:
By definition, if the parent can opt out it is NOT being "forced". It's every parent's responsibility to be aware of specifically what their child's school is offering, and their job to make the opt-out decision. Dumping that responsibility on the school and then yowling after the fact is NOT exercising proper parental oversight.
on June 7,2014 | 12:16AM
niimi wrote:
The program should have been opt-in in the first place.
on June 6,2014 | 05:11PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
This program seems totally inappropriate for middle school kids. Just more incompetence from the DOE and Matayoshi. Even with 68% of principals calling for her to be terminated, they go ahead and renew her contract. So her family is politically connected and protected by Abercrombie. All the more reason to remove her. Most of Abercrombie's people are incompetent just like him, all the good ones bailed out in the first year after they realized he wasn't going to change anything, just more of the same democratic party taxpayer ripoff.
on June 6,2014 | 06:26PM
false wrote:
Exactly. 5th graders need to be taught by their parents about pono choices. Not the DOE. You have no idea what the teacher is actually saying or the message being conveyed. Better for DOE to tell parents, do your job.
on June 6,2014 | 07:43PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
"Better for DOE to tell parents, do your job". Yeah, because they'll listen, right?
on June 6,2014 | 08:58PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Outstanding decisions by the committee. I continue to remain on the side that Pono Choices mu
on June 6,2014 | 03:05PM
DinoMax wrote:
It was never forced on the students or parents on the original implmentation. Everyone had a choice to opt out.
on June 6,2014 | 03:17PM
8082062424 wrote:
thing is parents had no idea what was in the program. some found out when there child was in the program. this way as a parent you have the chocie to put your child in this class. it more then fair
on June 6,2014 | 03:27PM
niimi wrote:
Should have been opt-in in the first place.
on June 6,2014 | 05:12PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
DinoMax, I opposed Pono Choices and there is a huge difference between "Opt out" and "Opt in."
on June 6,2014 | 06:36PM
d_bullfighter wrote:
The DOE is well aware that opt-out is the sneaky way to get an agenda through and bypass the parents because many parents do not take the time, or have the time to review the curriculum so their children in effect become auto-enrolled.
on June 6,2014 | 08:23PM
Skyler wrote:
No parent should have to opt-out of this program for their young children, so mahalo to those who fought to make it so. Some of the content is so controversial that whoever designed it could possibly be a closet pedophile. Auwe.
on June 6,2014 | 03:33PM
false wrote:
Kids will live what their families live. They come to know more way before Pono Choices is available. 5th graders need to have "the talk" with their parents if not before. Kids are way more initiated before adults really want to acknowledge the obvious. It's the responsibility that needs to be addressed. It's the establishing "mom" and "dad" as the pono source of information. In it's present DOE presentation it is obscene by virtue of the environment and the presentation..
on June 6,2014 | 03:34PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Stick to teaching school and leave the sex lessons to the parents.
on June 6,2014 | 06:32PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Because that works so well now?
on June 6,2014 | 08:58PM
Skyler wrote:
For the majority, yes... yes it does. Teaching 11 yr, olds that it's OK have anal sex really isn't most people's idea of 'working well,' let me tell you. Most kids at that age wouldn't be thinking of this on their own, either. Adults ruin more kid's lives with sheer stupidity, I swear.
on June 6,2014 | 11:26PM
medigogo wrote:
Now this is definitely more pono. Sex education is primarily the parents' job and duty, not the state's.
on June 6,2014 | 03:56PM
nalogirl wrote:
Agree with you completely. I just don't understand why they are teaching 11 year olds about anal sex. Next thing you know, girls will be pressured by their boyfriends to do it, I mean they did teach us about it in school. Personally, I think anal sex is gross, and my husband agrees.
on June 6,2014 | 04:13PM
niimi wrote:
The next thing you know the state will say they are raising the kids.
on June 6,2014 | 05:13PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
It would have helped if the writer had included more detail about the changes, but on the surface they sound reasonable.
on June 6,2014 | 04:06PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Seems like a reasonable compromise.
on June 6,2014 | 04:12PM
nalogirl wrote:
Yup, let's teach girls about a n a l s e x so that they will have another pressure put upon them. School says its okay so why not? Ridiculous.
on June 6,2014 | 04:16PM
Skyler wrote:
Worse, they're teaching it to young boys - who then put pressure where it isn't wanted.
on June 6,2014 | 04:42PM
bully106 wrote:
schools should stay out of the sex education business and stick to the 3 Rs... period! How could a program like this one have been implemented if it is as bad as reported??? don't we think in the government anymore????
on June 6,2014 | 04:19PM
jomama wrote:
It hasn't been the 3 R's since they switched to the 5 R's. No wonder our kids can't get into college.
on June 6,2014 | 06:43PM
kainalu wrote:
Pretty much makes this issue moot. Good move.
on June 6,2014 | 04:50PM
rigormortis wrote:
What does this pono program have to do with UH disability studies? They own and developed it for what reason? Taxpayer money paid for "research and development."
on June 6,2014 | 05:06PM
rigormortis wrote:
Trying to link sexual activity with disability, "we just can't help but do it. We born this way."
on June 6,2014 | 05:20PM
Oahuan wrote:
Anus as a sex organ? That's pono?
on June 6,2014 | 05:07PM
niimi wrote:
Should have called it Por noh Choices for the way it was so graphic.
on June 6,2014 | 05:10PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
on June 6,2014 | 07:35PM
niimi wrote:
Well, the state of Hawaii Department of Education has been fumbling basic core education for 30 years, so the Pono Choices fiasco is not surprising at all. We have too many cooks or cooks with a K in the Central Offices. Imagine if we took 2/3rds of that Central Office headcount and put them into the schools where they belong? Smaller class sizes, more student attention. Instead we have 1,000 paper pushers in the Central Office right now and most with $80,000 and above salaries.
on June 6,2014 | 05:15PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
That's right, they can't even effectively teach core subjects and now they want to teach sexual education to 6th graders? Surprise ... The DOE is run by incompetent administrators.
on June 6,2014 | 06:36PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Why do schools have to teach sex education anyway? Sex is a natural thing - do any other species have sex education?
on June 6,2014 | 07:33PM
Skyler wrote:
For the majority, yes - yes it does. Teaching 11 yr. olds that it's ok to have a nal sex is what most consider as 'working,' I can tell you that. Adults ruin more kid's lives with sheer stupidity, I swear.
on June 6,2014 | 11:28PM
Skyler wrote:
"DowntownGreen wrote: Because that works so well now? on June 6,2014 | 08:58PM"

my reply was to Downtown Green - why's it here?? Oh & there is a typo: Meant to say "....isn't what most people consider 'working,'..." dratted 'no editing' format!

on June 6,2014 | 11:41PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Check out the statistics on STDs and teenage pregnancy and then tell me sex ed by parents is working. If you think that's "working", we may have different definitions of positive outcomes.
on June 7,2014 | 06:21AM
gwanma wrote:
re Matayoshi's comment...I thought we sent our kids to school to learn about the three Rs. I guess I'm old fashioned...I didn't know that it was the school's duty to prevent teen pregnancies and STDs...always thought that was the parents' job. So what is the reason for teaching them about homosexual sex? What is the reason why they practically hid what they were teaching? Hmmmm...her answer just rubbed me the wrong way.
on June 9,2014 | 03:30PM
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