Planned Parenthood cleared for return to Shen

Group was banned from sex ed last year, abstinence advocates decry decision

— The Shenendehowa Central School District’s Board of Education has conducted an about face over a controversial decision that has left parents divided.

On Tuesday, Aug. 28, the board adopted a Comprehensive Sexual Health Curriculum that clears the way for Planned Parenthood representatives to return to the classroom as guest speakers. That was a recommendation returned by the district’s Health Advisory Council.

Under the adopted policy, teachers would be able to invite guest speakers in to speak during a three-day sexual health curriculum that’s part of health education.

“It didn’t say anything at all about who they may or may not use as guest speakers,” said Mary Blaauboer, the school board’s president.

But a teacher would be able to invite Planned Parenthood. The issue is of note in the district because a group of parents called Shen Parents Choice Coalition lobbied to keep the group out of schools last year. In October, the district decided to keep Planned Parenthood off school grounds. About 60 district families are involved in the group.

Maureen Silfer of Shen Parents Choice Coalition said the group is disappointed with the recent decision. She pointed to a Congressional report suggesting abstinence-centered sexual risk avoidance education is superior to comprehensive sexual health education.

“The only thing it promotes is abstinence. … There is no encouragement of students to engage in sexual activity,” said Silfer. “They’re given the reasons why abstinence is the best choice for them right now in their lives.”

Blaauboer said the board’s decision does not pertain to Planned Parenthood specifically. The group is not yet scheduled to speak to any classes.

“Ordinarily what happens in a curricular area … is that the teachers come together with an academic administrator and look at what the curricular core standards are and what the requirements are,” said Blaauboer. “My hope is that people will keep an eye on the curriculum. … The overlay of what a parent’s duty and responsibility and privilege, is to talk to their children about what their family expectations and values are is always the family’s responsibility – not the school district’s.”

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