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Chicago schools to introduce sex education in kindergarten

world Updated: Mar 02, 2013 16:50 IST

Kindergartners in Chicago will be introduced to sex education within two years as part of an overhaul of the Chicago public schools sexual health program.

Most US public schools usually start sex education in the fifth grade.

The new policy, which the Chicago Board of Education passed on Wednesday, mandates that a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten, reports ABC News.

Chicago has the third-largest public school system in the country, with 431,000 students.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of the Chicago Public School System, said in a statement that the implementation of a new sexual health education policy will help the students in building a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the pre-adolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives, she added.

Under the new policy, the kindergartners will learn the basics about anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. Through the third grade, the lessons will focus on the family, feelings and appropriate and inappropriate touching. In the fourth grade, students will start learning about puberty, and HIV. From the fifth through the 12th grade, the emphasis will be on reproduction, the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS, and other sexually-transmitted diseases, bullying and contraception, including abstinence.

For the first time in Chicago, sex education instruction will cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Students will be introduced to terms and definitions associated with sexual identity, including those related to heterosexual and LGBT populations, in an effort to bring awareness, promote tolerance and prevent bullying, said the school board.

Parents or guardians of students can opt out of the sexual health education program if they so choose.

The policy was designed to align the Chicago public school system with the standards in President Obama's national HIV/AIDS strategy.