Middle school students in the Cy-Fair Independent School District will soon be learning about sex in school from cartoons.
"We already have data on the program to show that it does reach middle school students," Cy-Fair ISD Coordinator of Secondary Science Debra Hill said. "We have no evidence at all that our old program was working. If you want students to change their behavior, then you need to present information in a way that's appealing to them."
The 12-lesson program, set to begin in October with seventh graders, was recommended by a group comprised of students, parents and educators. It was approved for implementation by the school board earlier this year. Cy-Fair ISD officials decided to update a generation-old set of videos after discovering a disturbing trend.
"If we look at pregnancy rates in this school district, they're increasing," Hill said. "If we look at the number of middle schoolers getting pregnant, it's increasing. If our old program was highly effective, we would not be seeing an increase in pregnancy rates."
The new evidence-based curriculum, designed by the UT Public Health Center, features cartoons teaching kids about abstinence. For students who admit they're planning on becoming sexually active, the animated characters explain safe sex options.
"I can see why kids should know that," middle school parent Swanney Lee said. "But then again, when I jump back into my 'daddy skin,' it does still make me uncomfortable. I just wish my little girl would still just play with Barbies, but I understand this isn't the world we're living in."
Cy Fair ISD officials said that any parents who might be uncomfortable exposing their children to the new curriculum will be able to select exactly what their student sees.
"We provide parents with the opportunity to adjust how the students receive the information or don't receive the information," Hill said.
Since the new program doesn't start until late October, the district said that parents can preview the curriculum at www.itsyourgame.org. There, parents can decide for themselves exactly what they want or don't want their kids exposed to.
"They will have lots of time to go in and really review and make an informed decision for their student," Hill said.