Pono or not pono
A state House lawmaker claimed Thursday that Pono Choices, a pilot sex education curriculum aimed at public middle school students, is not medically accurate or age appropriate and deliberately minimizes the risks of homosexual behavior.
State Rep. Bob McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) said he wants the state Board of Education to either pull the curriculum from public schools or make revisions to the content.
McDermott said the curriculum, which the state Department of Education had initially withheld from him, includes the anus in its description of male and female genitals. He said genitals are more properly defined as reproductive organs.
McDermott also said the curriculum omits a reference to anal sex without a condom in a description of low- and high-risk sexual behaviors.
"It is unhealthy at best and lethal at worst," he said at a news conference at the state Capitol. "This is not age-appropriate for an 11-year-old student."
The Department of Education put Pono Choices on hold in late November after complaints by McDermott and other conservatives about its content. The department lifted the hold in December after confirming that the curriculum is "medically accurate, appropriate and aligned with health education, state law and DOE policy."
Twelve schools are using Pono Choices this semester, according to the department. Eight other schools are expected to receive training on the curriculum. Parents who object to the curriculum are able to opt their children out of the instruction.
McDermott, who believes homosexuality is "aberrant," has challenged the state's gay marriage law in court. He and others have warned, among other things, that gay marriage would lead to homosexuality being taught in public schools as a normal and acceptable behavior.