Louisville Sex Education Now wants to change JCPS education now

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A woman stands by a sign at the rally. Photo by Phoebe Monsour.

Phoebe Monsour

Louisville Sex Education Now (LSEN) held a rally to promote comprehensive guidelines for sex education in JCPS outside the VanHoose Education Center on August 1.

Women listen to speeches while they hold signs during the rally. Photo by Phoebe Monsour.

LSEN is a coalition of organizations such as ACLU of Kentucky, Black Lives Matter Louisville, Planned Parenthood and The Fairness Campaign.

LSEN hopes to add abstinence, contraception, LGBTQ health and identity, domestic and sexual violence awareness, consent and healthy relationships to the county’s health guidelines and wants to make sure that students learn both age-appropriate and medically-accurate material.

Kennedy Stephens, a 2013 Manual graduate, said, “The guidelines that JCPS currently has are pretty vague.”

Kennedy Stephens uses a megaphone before the rally. Photo by Phoebe Monsour.

Currently, the Kentucky guidelines for seventh-grade sexual health classes are that students must be able to “analyze decisions that impact an individual’s emotional, sexual, and reproductive health (e.g., describing benefits of abstaining from sexual activity: preventing pregnancy, preventing STDs, maintaining self-esteem).”

In eighth grade students must be able to “explain the benefits (preventing pregnancy, preventing HIV/STDs, maintaining self-esteem) and strategies (e.g., using refusal skills, talking with parents, doctors, counselors) of abstaining from sexual activity.”

For high school, the guidelines mention sexual health standards twice. According to the guidelines, students must be able to understand that “decisions regarding sexuality have short and long term consequences and responsibilities,” and be able to explain “how decision-making relates to responsible sexual behavior (e.g., abstinence, preventing pregnancy, preventing HIV/STDs), impacts physical, mental and social well being of an individual.”

Chris Kolb, the JCPS board member from District 2, said, “Which school you happen to attend should never ever determine the quality of the education that you receive. And I believe that as a school board member, I have a responsibility to insure that kids have accurate and scientific information about health.”

Chris Kolb speaks at the rally. Photo by Phoebe Monsour.

Advocates of LSEN cite that Kentucky has the seventh highest teen birth rate in the U.S. with 32.4 births per 1000 teenage females.

“I didn’t get sex ed at home, and I didn’t get sex ed at school. I actually interned teaching sex ed,” Sara Hall, the Master of Ceremonies for LSEN, said. “I realized that at that age I was missing so much information and that maybe had I gotten that information earlier in life, I could have avoided a few mistakes and made healthier choices.”

Sara Hall gives a speech at the rally. Photo by Phoebe Monsour.

The Alley Theater joined LSEN’s protest with their mobile theater, known as The Arts Caravan, made from a donated TARC bus.

Scott Davis, who is producing director for The Alley Theater, said, “Anything that’s pro-education we want to support.”

The Arts Caravan bus sits by the rally with free books inside. Photo by Phoebe Monsour.

“This has been a real grassroots movement so really a lot of people in the community have been involved. A lot of volunteers put a lot of time into this effort,” Hall said.