RALEIGH, N.C. — After much debate on the subject by parents, school officials and students, the Wake County School Board reached a decision Tuesday night about sex education in its schools.
The board narrowly passed a policy that emphasizes abstinence before marriage.
By a 5-3 vote, the board approved expanding its abstinence-until-marriage policy to include sex education in health courses at every grade level.
The decision means the final word students should hear from teachers about sex is abstinence.
"This is simply saying that when we teach kids about sex, we are going to send a clear message that abstinence is their best choice for success," board member Bill Fletcher said.
Parents have argued that a strict abstinence policy ingores the reality that many teenagers are sexually active and need education on how to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease.
But even though the policy states abstinence is the final advice, it is not the only education students will get.
"We teach about contraceptives," Fletcher said. "We teach about the devices, the diaphrams, the foam. But just because we don't show (the students) how to use them, which is outside of state statutes, doesn't mean we should be blamed if someone gets pregnant."
About 90 percent of schools in North Carolina teach an abstinence-only curriculum. But according to the majority of teachers, abstinence should not be the only thing kids learn.
Eighty-nine percent thought sex-ed courses also should cover where to go for birth control. Eighty-two percent wanted to show students the correct way to use a condom, and 78 percent said classes should talk more about sexual orientation.
Also on the Wake County School Board's agenda Tuesday night was a vote to buy 25 new school buses and hire 25 new drivers. Board members unanimously approved the funding.
Transportation officials hope more buses and drivers will make it easier to change school start times, if board members decide to do that next year.