The Hawaii Department of Education has confirmed that children will only be able to receive sex education lessons if their parents specifically opt in, over fears about homosexuality.
Hawaii Republican Bob McDermott – who has repeatedly gone to court attempting to overturn same-sex marriage laws – had attacked sex education program Pono Choices.
He wrote a scathing report in January, claiming it was “simultaneously normalizing anal sex and homosexual behaviour”, while objecting to the “implicit endorsement of homosexuality… [with] homosexual behavior as the equivalent of male-to-female relationships”.
Following the report, the Hawaii government created a panel to “evaluate the curriculum’s appropriateness”, and today confirmed that following feedback, parents will specifically be required to opt-in to sex education.
Previously, parents were able to opt out of sex education, but they had to specifically request to do so.
As well as changing from an opt-out system to an opt-in, the government said it would be “increasing information about the risks of anal sex”.
Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe said: “There is no avoiding the fact that sexual health education is a sensitive and divisive issue.
“We took the concerns raised by members of the public seriously. Both the recommendations to UHM-CDS and changes to the department’s internal processes reflect that.”
Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said: “Let’s not forget that the goal of this curriculum and our sexual health education standards, Board policies, and state laws, is to reduce unintended teen pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV.
“Given the statistics about Hawaii’s youth — the rate of sexual activity, failure to use protection, rate of pregnancy, and the spread of disease — we must work together to ensure students are educated to make better choices.”