The Public Square

Kathie Spegal of Planned Parenthood on comprehensive sexuality education


My name is Kathie Spegal. I have been Director of Community Affairs for 6 years with Planned Parenthood. I have degrees in Health Education from University of Kentucky and Miami University of Ohio. I am active in women's rights issues.

It is amazing to me, that in this day and age of faster and more information than we could ever access, that our teens are completing their high school education with little or no information on responsible sex. They all seem to think that they have the right information, often gotten from a friend, a magazine or a TV show. It only takes a short conversation to discover that much of what they have heard is incomplete, incorrect or harmful.

The National Opinion Research Center recently completed a study of Illinois sex education teachers. While 93% of those surveyed offer some component of sex education, two-thirds omit critical elements of responsible and comprehensive sex education. Their curriculum does not include information such as where to get birth control, what actions a student can take regarding rape, or how to use condoms or other forms of birth control. 92% of these same teachers think that accurate information about birth control and safe sex should be provided to students whether they are sexually active or not.

83% of the voters who responded agree that students in Illinois should have information about contraception and disease prevention and that age-appropriate facts about pregnancy and STD's are an important part of all sex education programs. Almost two-thirds think that comprehensive sex education should be taught in Illinois schools.

Planned Parenthood recognizes that parents should be the primary source of information about issues dealing with sexuality education. We also recognize that many parents are uncomfortable talking to their children about these issues. That leaves schools as the logical place for accurate information to be disseminated but there is no standardized curriculum to help teachers present the topics.

The Coalition for Comprehensive Sexuality Education is a hosting a community discussion on how to promote responsible sex education in our schools in Champaign-Urbana. The group was formed to involve decisions makers and community influencers in a rational discussion that sticks to the facts. The public is invited to hear panelists, including a clergy person, an educator, a physician, and teens talk about their experiences.

Join us at 10 am on Saturday, May 7 at the Douglass Center Branch Library, 504. E. Grove Street in Champaign. That's 10 am, Saturday, May 7 at the Douglass Center Branch Library, 504. E. Grove Street in Champaign. For more information, contact Planned Partenthood, 217-359-4768. That's 217-359-4768.

Please be a part of the solution and help our teens graduate with a healthy body and a healthy attitude.