WHAT IS IN CHOOSING THE BEST...AND WHAT'S NOT?
The Cedarburg Schools will use 3 books from the Choosing the Best program for Human Growth & Development (HG&D) instruction (formerly called “sex ed.”) in 7th, 8th and 9th grade. Because the program is scripted, review of the teacher manual demonstrates exactly what will be said and taught to the students.
Below are examples of what will be taught from each of the books that will be used in 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Please note that this is only a fraction of the material to be taught. While there are some worthwhile activities in these materials and they seem like they cover important points (e.g., goal setting, character traits), Cedarburg Parents for Responsible HG&D Education has concluded from their review of the material that most of the "good" topics are taught inadequately (or contradictorily) and that overall, the negatives far outweighs the positives. We encourage all Cedarburg Parents to come to a comprehensive understanding of the Choosing the Best program by contacting the Cedarburg School District office and reviewing the complete teacher's manual for the grade that you are interested in.
The Choosing the Best program purports to promote abstinence until marriage, stressing to teens that an intimate relationship outside of marriage leaves a person feeling shame, guilt, low self-esteem, worry and depression. It teaches that a person who engages in a sexual relationship outside of marriage—which appears to mean any interaction beyond kissing—is dirty, used, damaged, and will be less likely to be able to “bond” with a future spouse. It idealizes the “wedding night” and marriage and sends the message to teens that they will be worry free and free from emotional harm if they remain abstinent until marriage.
What is NOT in Choosing the Best?
While much of what is contained in Choosing the Best is disturbing, what is left out of Choosing the Best is even more problematic. For example:
The information on contraceptives contained in Choosing the Best is presented only in a negative manner. In almost all of their discussions of contraception, they provide only the “typical usage” rates for pregnancy and STD prevention. An asterisk reveals that these are the rates for people who do not use these forms of contraceptives consistently or correctly. (The one exception is their discussion of condoms in the 8th and 9th grade materials, where they state that the figures given are for correct usage). No information is provided on the effectiveness of contraceptives when used correctly nor is any information provided on how to use these various contraceptives or how they work. This implies that the use of contraceptives, including condoms, is ineffective. Studies show that teens taught this message are less likely to use condoms or contraceptives when they do ultimately end up in a sexual relationship. This is a dangerous message to send to teens.
In Choosing the Best Way, students in 7th grade are told to abstain from a sexual relationship. Yet precisely what a “sexual relationship” entails is never defined. This program never defines the term “sexual intercourse.”
In Choosing the Best Path, students in 8th grade are told that abstinence means abstaining from “sexual intercourse, anal sex, oral sex, and mutual masturbation.” These terms, however, are never defined. If a student asks the teacher what any of these terms mean, they will be told to go home and ask their parents. While opening the lines of communication between parents and their children about sex and abstinence is an honorable goal, the reality is that in today’s world, a teen is more likely to search a term on the internet than ask a parent.
Homosexuality is completely ignored—it is never mentioned. What are gay and lesbian teens sitting in this class supposed to think about themselves? The program condones sexual relationships only in marriage. Same sex couples in the State of Wisconsin are not allowed to marry.
Single parents and parents who are divorced and/or remarried are stigmatized by this program. Choosing the Best sends the message to teens that having a sexual relationship with anyone other than with your one and only spouse is damaging, makes you a lesser, dirtier person, and mars your ability to form lasting emotional bonds with one’s spouse. What message are children with parents who are single, divorced or remarried to take away from these materials about their own families? How might this negatively affect their relationship with their parents?
The section on “date-rape” in Choosing the Best Journey (9th grade) is located in the lesson on “Making the Best Decisions.” This sends the message that the rape was the fault of the girl because she failed to make good choices.
Published Reviews of Choosing the Best
SIECUS, a not-for-profit organization, published a comprehensive review of the 2006 versions of Choosing the Best Path (to be used in 8th grade) and Choosing the Best Life (not being used in Cedarburg, but the materials provide the same message and contain many of the same activities). Click here to see their review.
Abstinence Until Marriage Pledge
Each of the Choosing the Best books contains an abstinence until marriage pledge. The books, as written, discuss and promote the abstinence until marriage pledge in class and instruct the students to develop an "accountability team." While the school district has decided that the abstinence pledge will not be an in-class activity as written in the book, the pledge form and related materials are printed in the student workbook, and the students will be told that they can take the abstinence until marriage pledge home to review and sign with their parents.
Why Have Materials Been Removed from the Choosing the Best Classes?
Many of the activities in Choosing the Best are so objectionable that they have been removed from the course by the Cedarburg School District. This may lead parents to believe that what is left is better or at least okay. However, the underlying messages that shaped the activities--that suggested to the creators of Choosing the Best that they would be appropriate activities--remain throughout, both in the teachers' scripts and in the less "jaw-dropping" activities. Click the button below to see some of the activities that were removed. We post these because we believe these accurately capture the philosophy and message of Choosing the Best.