Chicago, Illinois — The Chicago Board of Education has approved a proposed policy that requires that sexual education begin in kindergarten.
ABC News reports that the sex ed overhaul passed Wednesday night in what is known as the third largest public school system in the country.
“It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships,” asserted Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of the Chicago Public School System, in a written statement. “By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the preadolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.”
The new policy would require that kindergartners be taught about basic anatomy, reproduction and healthy relationships — among other items. Through the third grade, children would also learn about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
Beginning in fourth grade, students would be taught about the changes that come with puberty, and would be provided with information about the HIV virus. Fifth graders would learn about contraception and abstinence, as well as the process of reproduction.
“Fifty-two percent of our students have had sexual intercourse,” Chief Health Officer Stephanie Whyte told the Chicago Tribune. “And we know just under 36 percent did not have a condom on, and 88 percent were not on an oral contraceptive. These are risk behaviors, and we want to make certain we provide awareness.”
In addition, all grades would receive lessons about tolerance toward the homosexual lifestyle, and discussions would also cover gender identity issues.
While parents can opt their children out of the sex education sessions, some are still disturbed that such teaching will be introduced at such a young age.
“I just don’t think it’s appropriate,” parent Melissa Diebold told My Fox Chicago. “I don’t think its age appropriate. They have no concept of anything like that at that stage in life.”
“CPS shouldn’t take control of someone else’s children like that with our sex education,” agreed Mark Macklan. “That’s how I feel.”
Mikkel Nance told reporters that he thinks talk about sex should begin at home, but continue in the classroom.
“[My son is] in second grade, and we’ve had introductory conversation on how things work, and how body works,” he explained. “I do applaud CPS for trying to talk to children early the only concern is how they implement it, and if they involved parents in that process and if they do so they’ll make that transition smoothly.”
Currently, sex ed begins in the fifth grade for Chicago students. The new policy is expected to be implemented in full by 2016.