Cumberland County sex ed program on hold after opposition from parents

Friday, October 20, 2017
Parents critical of Cumberland County sex ed initiative
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Some people think the sex ed goes too far.

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A sex education program is on hold in Cumberland County while the school board takes a second look. "Get Real," a 10-day program for middle school students was designed to address risky behavior, but dozens of parents fought it.

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"Get Real" is nothing new to Cumberland County schools though. In fact, it was taught last year.

Surveys found that 85 percent of students who took the course said they were less likely to have sex. That's why Cumberland County Schools wanted to bring the program back again this month.

On Monday, parents expressed concern to the Cumberland County School Board about the mature nature of the program.

The curriculum deals with sexual identity, abstinence, and sexually transmitted diseases, but it's being taught to students as young as sixth-graders.

Hairstylist Erica Smith heard about it from one of her clients at Fusion Salon. She said she believes the program goes too far.

"Sex education is one thing but the amount they're going into it is just really unnecessary," Smith said.

Shift NC, a nonprofit advisory group recommended the course to Cumberland County Schools. The group said there is a lot of misinformation about the course and its curriculum.

"There's not a lot of information about LGBTQ youth or different types of sex. It's really focused on helping young people understand the feelings that they are feeling," said Communication Director Elizabeth Finley.

In 2015, Cumberland County had more than 3,000 STD cases, coming in at No. 16 in the state for teen-pregnancy rates. Those statistics are why advocates say sex-education programs are so important.

"What we do know is these programs contribute to students waiting much longer to become sexually active. And if they do become sexually active they're protecting themselves and their partners," Finley said.

But for some parents, the issue isn't necessarily about awareness.

"I feel like we've taken God out of school but we want to teach our kids about sex at 11 and 12 years old," Smith said. "That's something that needs to be talked about at home and not in our school system."

Shift NC maintains Get Real puts the power in the hands of the parents.

"Encouraging parent and child interactions is a big part of Get Real. In fact, there are activities where teachers ask students to talk with their parents," Finley said.

Cumberland County Schools will review the Get Real program during the next 30 days. From there, they will decide whether to offer the course again.