Is five years old too young to begin receiving sex education lessons?
Last week, Chicago Public Schools' Board of Education approved expanding sexual education in their schools as a means of addressing the high rates of gonorrhea and Chlamydia cases among the city's teens, as well as a teen HIV rate that has risen 43 percent since 2000, DNAinfo Chicago reports.
The new sexual education curriculum in the nation's third largest school district is expected to be implemented beginning in 2016. According to ABC News, kindergarteners will first learn basics of anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationship and personal safety -- such as appropriate and inappropriate touching. By fifth grade, lessons will go into HIV/AIDS prevention and transmission, bullying and contraception -- including abstinence.
The lessons will also be newly inclusive of issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.
On Tuesday, Dr. Stephanie Whyte, CPS chief health officer, explained to HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill that the sex-education lessons taught to kindergarteners under the policy would remain age-appropriate. (Watch the full segment embedded below.)
"We aren't going into sexual reproduction at all at this stage," Whyte told HuffPost. "We're talking about the differences between things that are living and non-living, the life cycle, how all living things reproduce."
Still, the policy has its critics, such as Los Angeles-based author and radio host Bruce Sallan who told HuffPost he feared that lessons on homosexuality and transgender identities could "maybe suggest things to kids that might not otherwise even come up."
Some parents locally in Chicago also have concerns with the plan -- though parents uncomfortable with the lessons will be able to opt their children out of the classes.
"CPS shouldn't take control of someone else's children like that with our sex education," Mark Macklan told Fox Chicago last week. "That's how I feel."