Pittsfield Educators and Community Members to Evaluate Sex-Ed in the District

Members of the Pittsfield School Committee will meet with community members tomorrow night to consider updating the district’s sexual education curriculum. Advocates say students in the Berkshires aren’t getting all the information they need about sex. To date, Massachusetts is one of twenty-eight states without a sex education requirement for its public schools. That means teaching kids about reproductive health falls to individual districts. Berkshire United Way’s Kristine Hazzard — who’s presenting at the meeting — says in Pittsfield, educators use a three session sex-ed program called “Making Proud Choices” in middle school classrooms.

“However, what we’ve learned is not every eight grader is getting it based on the way its structured. Kids who take languages don’t take the health class and so they’re not getting it.”

Executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy — Patricia Quinn — says the district needs a comprehensive sex-ed policy. She says without that, many educators aren’t comfortable teaching about new kinds of birth control — or even the most basic.

“Everything from talking about contraceptive methods at all — like what are they and how do they work. To whether they are allowed to teach kids how to correctly put on a condom.”

In Pittsfield thirty-four teens gave birth in 2010 — which is twice the statewide average of seventeen. Quinn says a comprehensive sex-ed bill has been referred to the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Education. She says in the meantime, many school systems are revamping policies on their own.