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Anti-Choice Group Pressures District to Change Sex Education

Cody, WY

Sexuality education in Cody High School is under the microscope after members of Cody Right to Life submitted a petition to the school board asking to ban a local family planning group from teaching the sexuality education component of the health curriculum.

The school board accepted the petition of approximately 500 signatures and quickly voted 4–3 to suspend Northwest Wyoming Family Planning (NWFP) from teaching its one-day lesson in the health classes. The board resolution also mandates that students be segregated by gender for the lesson about contraception and STDs and that it be taught by a health teacher or school nurse.[1] In addition, the board voted to create a task force that would include representatives from NWFP, Cody Right to Life, parents, teachers, a school nurse, and a board member that would review the high school’s entire health class and come back with recommendations.

Members of Cody Right to Life, who argued that NWFP did not focus enough on abstinence, “negative outcomes,” and the risks and side effects of contraceptives, were satisfied with the board’s decision.  A city council member also said she was pleased with the board because of her concern that NWFP was not covering the “damaging emotional consequences that come with underage sex.”[2]

The Cody community, however, is divided over the issue and many teachers, students, and parents defended NWFP and the safer sex lesson at a subsequent board meeting. One CHS health teacher called the decision to separate the students by gender as a “step backward” and said that “it goes against everything we’ve been striving to do in education.”[3] He was joined by a group of 70 other area teachers who were critical of the change. A student also told board members that she thought their decision was more about “personal views instead of what’s best for the students.” The NWFP representative at the meeting said that they do stress the importance of abstinence, but take a neutral stance and provide “students with options,” and tools to make informed decisions.[4] At the same board meeting, a group of concerned citizens presented their own petition of nearly 500 signatures to reverse the board’s decision.

The school board has accepted the petition and is working on appointing the taskforce, which will be facilitated by the district’s curriculum coordinator and will report back to the board in April.[5] SIECUS will continue to monitor the situation.


[1] Amber Peabody, “Board alters sex ed at CHS,” Cody Enterprise, 26 January 2009, accessed on 1 February 2009, <www.codyenterprise.com/articles/2009/01/26/news/doc497e30815268c097725911.txt>.

[2] Amber Peabody, “Sex-Ed fight heats up,” Cody Enterprise, 11 February 2009, accessed on 12 February 2009, <http://www.codyenterprise.com/articles/2009/02/11/news/doc49934e3602ade021233878.txt>

[3] “Some at CHS disappointed with school board ruling,” Cody Enterprise, 26 January 2009, accessed on 17 February 2009, <www.codyenterprise.com/articles/2009/01/26/news/doc497e304051ea6016746556.txt>.

[4] “Some at CHS disappointed with school board ruling,” Cody Enterprise, 26 January 2009, accessed on 17 February 2009, <www.codyenterprise.com/articles/2009/01/26/news/doc497e304051ea6016746556.txt>.

[5] Amber Peabody, “Board alters sex ed at CHS,” Cody Enterprise, 26 January 2009, accessed on 1 February 2009, <www.codyenterprise.com/articles/2009/01/26/news/doc497e30815268c097725911.txt>.

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