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No birth control in sex ed
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Editor's Note: The following story was originally published with errors regarding the new state law. A corrected version appears below.

MONROE - Starting this fall, middle and high school students in Monroe won't be taught about contraceptives in Health class.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill earlier this month that eliminates the requirement for local school districts that include a human growth and development curriculum to include contraceptives in their curriculum. The new law repeals the Healthy Youth Act passed in 2010 when Democrats controlled state government.

The current law remains in effect next week when students in teacher Noel Herbst's Health class start a "Human Growth and Development" unit.

Herbst said she stresses abstinence but also gives the kids, mostly tenth-graders, a comprehensive overview of options for birth control and general knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases.

"They seem fine with it. I've had kids say the more information they have, the better decisions they can make," she said. "Personally, with the law, I think we're stepping backward."

Herbst and other health teachers at the middle and high school level are waiting to get an official, finalized version of the bill before tweaking specifics in the sex ed curriculum for next year.

According to the Legislative Reference Bureau, the current law stipulates that school districts that offer human growth and development in their curriculum include, among other things, "the health benefits, side effects and proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration to prevent pregnancy and barrier methods approved by the FDA to prevent sexually transmitted diseases." The new law eliminates this requirement. It also requires a school district that includes a human growth and development curriculum to "emphasize that abstinence is the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted disease."

The new curriculum takes a right vs. wrong approach to sex, according to Cory Hirsbrunner, the Monroe School District's director of curriculum and instruction.

"With the comprehensive approach, we hit on everything and it leaves the decision up to the individual. We talk about good decision-making," Hirsbrunner said. The new law "will make it more about telling kids what is right."

This is the second time in as many years that sex ed teachers have had to revise their curriculum as mandated by state lawmakers. Two Aprils ago, Hirsbrunner was putting together a sex ed plan that adheres to the Healthy Youth Act guidelines.

"We just adjust and adapt to whatever we're required to do," she said.

Parents have to sign off on the sex-ed curriculum, and this practice won't change next year. They will still have the opportunity to review the teaching materials and can elect to pull their child from the Human Growth and Development unit if it doesn't fit with their beliefs.

Herbst said typically between one and five parents come in to review her curriculum each year. Last fall, two parents did. One elected to remove a daughter from the unit and have the girl complete a parent-assigned project that covers the same subject matter, "just not as in-depth."

Herbst said she sees all different levels of knowledge in her classes. For some students, the material is a refresher; for others, it's new.

"There are some kids that don't know all the options they have," she said. "Each class is so different. Some are ready for this, and some are not. They're all at a different state."