HONOLULU — Hawaii’s State Department of Education will reinstate the controversial “Pono Choices” sex education curriculum, but the program for middle school students will include some key revisions after pressure from parents and lawmakers.
The curriculum, developed by the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies, set off a firestorm over the last year. Some parents and lawmakers said the program, which taught children as young as age 11 about anal and homosexual sex, was inaccurate and inappropriate.
Rep. Bob McDermott, R-Aiea, who has a 12-year-old son in public school, led the charge to pressure the state Board of Education to pull the curriculum. He accused the DOE of “normalizing homosexual lifestyles” and “putting students at risk by withholding critical facts.”
McDermott also took issue with the DOE’s definition of “age appropriateness” used in evaluating Pono Choices, calling it “shockingly absurd.”
“I am certain that the first time many of these children have ever been exposed to the concept of anal sex was in Pono Choices, so how could it possibly be age appropriate?” McDermott asked.
McDermott said families were told Pono Choices was a “new curriculum” being tested or a “pilot project,” but were never told their students were participating in a research project.
“Parents simply were not informed that their kids were being used as human guinea pigs for research. This is a monumental breach of trust between the DOE and the owners of the system, the parents,” McDermott said.
McDermott, who released his own extensive 19-page report on the curriculum’s flaws and inaccuracies in January 2014 after consulting several physicians, said Pono Choices was never certified as medically accurate and still isn’t today.
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