NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — The superintendent of the Niagara Falls City School District wants to update the district's health and sex education programs. Thursday, the public weighed-in on his proposal.
Right now, the district teaches abstinence-only sex education.
"I think we're meeting kids in the situation where it's at. So, I don't think that it's a revolutionary idea. I think it's an idea that's time has come," said superintendent Mark Laurrie.
Laurrie says the abstinence-only sex education approach is not working. He points to stats from the New York State Department of Health which show teen pregnancy rates in some parts of Niagara Falls are double the state average.
"While you may see slight declines in the pregnancy rates, we're starting from a very high number, and that has to be decreased, and I don't think we as a district have done enough to educate kids to make that happen," Laurrie said.
Ten out of the 11 speakers support Laurrie's proposal.
"I've seen groups of girls on the elevator together pregnant. And I've seen, I've met many boys who have turned out to be fathers. I know too many students with children than is ever acceptable," said Niagara Falls High School Senior Olivia Adams.
The superintendent's proposal is a comprehensive health education program. It includes everything from teaching kids how to take care of their bodies, to proper dental care, and sexual education. The district would partner with independent groups like the Community Health Care Center, which would park its mobile unit at the high school to give students access to health care, dental care, and contraceptives. Native American Services and Planned Parenthood could also be involved.
Only one speaker opposed Laurrie's plan.
"Anybody who is connected with Planned Parenthood is connected with each and every act that Planned Parenthood does," Gary Boisclair said.
"I do think it's a school issue. Why is it a school issue? Because our graduation rate is not where it should be, and I think that this isn't the panacea to move that graduation rate, but it's certainly going to move the needle in my opinion," Laurrie said.
The school board is expected to vote on the final proposal next month. If approved, the new programs would roll out in February or March.