A reader sent me this response she got from North Dakota Superintendent Wayne Sanstead in response to concerns voiced about a Department of Public Instruction training event for teachers that is being co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Minnesota.
According to Sanstead, the event has, uh, been taken out of context. Or something. It’s hard to tell, because despite this guy being a Phd. and the head of our public school system, some of what he’s writing here is almost incomprehensible.
Thank you for contacting the Department as it should be, with your questions and concerns. Abstinence is a cornerstone for all effective prevention programs. With that in place, whether programs should be abstinence based or abstinence only is determined by each district. We support policy that allows local school districts to make this decision. The Department of Public Instruction encourages local districts to adopt programs that are consistent with student needs and local mores as well as research based and best practice centered. Our objection to HB 1229 was based only in the respect of ‘local control’ decision making.
A secondary and coincidental issue was taken out of context with the announcement of the pending Adolescent Sexual Health conference. Our role is to provide professional development to teachers, counselors, and other school personnel with medically relevant and accurate information regarding all school health issues. This conference deals with one aspect of school health which is sex education. The conference presenters understand the majority of ND school districts use abstinence based curriculum in their schools. Our two days will encompass abstinence based education-teaching medically accurate and abstinence information to teachers is complementary.
We understand that the only way to totally prevent unwanted pregnancies is to abstain from sexual activity. However, our data shows that teens in North Dakota are engaging in sexual activity; therefore, it is realistic to provide professional development to educators which meet the needs of youth.
We welcome any school professional or community educator who works with adolescent sexual health to attend this conference. Any questions about departmental position and the role of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, please don’t hesitate to call Sandra Tibke, Health Education Coordinator at 328-2098.
We all want the same things for our students. We want them to be safe, in healthy relationships, and ideally to choose abstinence, avoid HIV, other STI’s and pregnancy.
Dr. Wayne G. Sanstead
What’s interesting is that the Department of Public Instruction hasn’t put this training event on their calendar of events published on their public website. Maybe because they knew how controversial this issue would be once the public found out that Planned Parenthood was involved?
It’s telling that Sanstead doesn’t even mention Planned Parenthood in this response. Generally speaking, a conference about sex education isn’t all that controversial, but I think most North Dakotans would object to sex education training being provided by a group as polarizing, with as pronounced an ideological bent, as Planned Parenthood.
If the goal is simply accurate sex education training, then certainly there are organizations who could of provided it that are less polarizing than Planned Parenthood.
If you’d like to email Sanstead your own thoughts on this matter, use the form below.