Board Member Questions Benefit of Sex Ed Group

The Region 13 Board of Education discussed a complaint made this week by a parent over a recent visit to Coginchaug High School by a Wesleyan-based sex education group,


Several school board members have raised their own concerns over a Wesleyan-based sex education group, following a complaint made by a parent this week over the group's recent visit to Coginchaug High School.

On Wednesday, Patch which stemmed from an April 13 11th-grade health class involving members of AIDS and Sexual Health Awareness, a student-based group that provides workshops on sexually transmitted diseases to local high schools.

After the class, a parent who asked not to be identified, said that her daughter had come home upset over the material covered in the workshop.

On Wednesday night, the complaint was discussed by members of the Board of Education, including Elizabeth Gara, who called some of the material covered by the group "inappropriate."

"My recommendation is not to use this group," Gara said. "I don't see any benefit or value to them doing this particularly when it is making some students uncomfortable."

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Gara said she felt the school's two certified health teachers were "more than qualified" to teach the curriculum. The teachers are also more familiar with the students, Gara added, and therefore would be in a better position to handle controversial subjects.

Superintendent Susan Viccaro reiterated what school officials told Patch earlier this week — that much of the discussion during the workshop was led by students' curiosity on the subject.

"Students were generating topics they wanted to talk about and there were some topics that came up that certainly were very controversial," Viccaro said. "I think the health teacher handled it well in her response.

Board member Merrill Adams suggested that questions coming from students be written down and asked by a teacher, who could first determine whether the question was appropriate.

Gara added that she worried that the school's opt out policy might make the person who opts out even more uncomfortable.

"I think we need to have further discussion here," Viccaro said. "We really need to look at the benefit of having another group in."

katie April 27, 2012 at 03:30 PM
JustaCountryBoy, I understand what you're saying, but the fact is that the things that were said and brought up like foot fetishes and golden showers were brought up by the students themselves and the ASHA program simply wrote whatever was said on the board. The point of the presentation was not to discuss what a golden shower is, but to inform us of what is a high or low risk activity for sexually transmitted infections, supporting the approved curriculum. Thank you, however, for informing me of the cost of Wesleyan University. I'll be sure to add it to my list of schools.
Michael Hayes April 27, 2012 at 04:00 PM
We seem to be going in circles here. Let's end the personal attacks or else I will. Thanks everyone!
Willow April 28, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I am a person who lives in town that goes to work every day in an AIDS Program. I see the devastation of what sexually transmitted diseases do to people. Often young people are admitted to hospitals thinking they have a curable condition, only to find they are HIV+. You have no idea what a game changer this is. I commend Coginchaug and the students from ASHA for providing information and answers to questions that kids have about a subject that is seldom talked about. It has been my experience that not even most adults know much about this disease and how to prevent it. Unfortunately, we are not living in the 70's anymore. I am open and honest about STD's and feel I have a moral obligation to do so. There are over 10,000 people currently living in CT that are HIV+. Most of these people are just like you and me and our kids and it only takes one bad decision to acquire such a disease. It is a good thing that our high school students have this opportunity to learn and ask questions they feel too uncomfortable to ask at home. I hope the decision is to keep ASHA coming to the high school even if it means getting parental permission. As for me and my children, I will make sure they attend each and every session. I can teach morality at home; but it takes people with special knowledge to convey the importance of learning skills to abate behaviors that can lead to disastrous lifelong consequences and I hope HIV testing becomes more routine.
Jack Dagon April 30, 2012 at 01:23 AM
As a father of a student I sat in on a asha class a few years ago and wished I had one when I was 17 years old, they taught what people Asked then to teach and brought up, it really is the most useful thing for people of that age to have. Also may I add to kimbob and Millie, how dare you come here and act so terriblely to the students and other people commenting on the topic and insulting their religious views you should both be ashamed. Get off your high fucking horse and see that all of these students have trumped you intilectualy and have done it in a respectful and polite way. I think you both need to take a long class in manners
Another Student May 13, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Thank you! I am a student myself and have been shocked at how rude and condescending many adults are being whereas many of the students have been arguing their perspectives as respectfully as they can. I personally agree that ASHA was a good program and would like to emphasize that students were allowed to leave the room at any time. Regardless of a difference in opinion, adults should be able to respectfully argue and listen to both sides of the issue.


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