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DCPS Teachers, Staff Train To Help Students With Sex Education

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Tyrell Garrett, 15, took this photo as part of a project for Browne Education Campus on health and his environment.
Tyrrell Garrett
Tyrell Garrett, 15, took this photo as part of a project for Browne Education Campus on health and his environment.

Tyrell Garrett, a 15-year-old from Browne Education Campus in northeast D.C. says there's a lot of misinformation about sex among his friends.

"I've been hearing kids saying they use two condoms or something like that so they won’t have a baby," says Tyrell. "Another one is like, the girls stand on their head, and they won’t have no baby if they stand on their head. I don’t know if that's true. That doesn’t even sound like something that would work."

Tyrell and other students say when they can't speak to their parents about sex, they turn to teachers. But Andrea DeSantis with DCPS's Office of Youth Engagement says often adults don't know what to say.

"It's like they're dumbfounded," says DeSantis. "So we've done a lot of professional development around having those conversations. So maybe you don’t feel like you can give them correct information but at least you cannot shut them out and be open to at least talking to them where they can go."

The training involves teaching teachers how to have conversations about human anatomy, body image, relationships and abstinence. Diana Bruce, who directs the health and wellness programs for DCPS, says more adults involved, not just health educators and school nurses. She says it’s important for students to have accurate information because of the possible health outcomes in the District.

"When you look across the board, you know, our young people are at risk at greater proportions than the most of the rest of the country on chlamydia and gonorrhea, on HIV, on pregnancy," says Bruce.

Also, Bruce says health education affects what students learn inside the classroom.

"This impacts behavior, this impacts attendance, this impacts academic performance, this impacts health," she says.

DCPS is evaluating the program and is in the process of recruiting 10 additional middle schools.

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