KALAOA, Hawaii –The University of Hawaii (UH) is giving gift cards to middle school students who participate in a controversial sex education program that was pulled by lawmakers earlier this year for teaching 11-year-olds about anal and homosexual sex.
Gift cards, priced at $10 and $20, are being distributed to kids aged 11 to 13 through the university’s Center on Disability Studies. The course, Pono Choices, is a pregnancy and disease prevention program designed by UH’s Center on Disability Studies. The program claims “to reduce the number of teen pregnancies and incidence of STIs; increase positive bonding in the school and community; increase sense of self-identity and self-efficacy; and improve expectations for the future.”
The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) pulled the program back in June over complaints from parents and lawmakers who said the curriculum was “normalizing homosexual lifestyles” and “putting students at risk by withholding critical facts,” according to Hawaii Reporter.
“This is a shameless manipulation of the data—giving 11-year-old kids a $10 dollar gift card, and then asking them how they liked the program,” said state Rep. Bob McDermott (R), who has a 12-year-old son in the school system. “Hawaii’s parents are in the unique situation of having their own tax dollars used to propagandize the ‘value’ of this deceptive intrusion into their public schools, to ‘sell’ them on a program they didn’t ask for and don’t want. Paying to be brainwashed so you will consent to pay more to have your children brainwashed is not a good use of tax dollars.”
The girl cards total $52,200, funded through a $5 million U.S. Office of Adolescent Health grant.
McDermott, who led the pressure to pull the program, is now calling for Pono Choices to be shut down, according to the Hawaii Reporter. He has emphasized the most controversial and medically inaccurate portions of the program, and decries the gift cards as a waste of taxpayer money.
“Their kids were being used as human subjects for research,” said McDermott. “This is a horrible breach of trust between the DOE and the owners of the system, the parents.”
As of November 2013, over 1,700 middle school students in Hawaii had gone through the program, according to Hawaii News Now.
After the program was pulled earlier this year, the Hawaii Department of Education created a task force to address the program’s issues. The task force released a list of 11 recommendations in June.
Despite pushback, the program’s advocates don’t see a problem with providing the pre-teens with a little incentive to take part in the course.
“The Pono Choices program provides gift cards to students, who have taken the course, as an incentive to complete student surveys,” Donalyn Dela Cruz, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii State Department of Education told the Hawaii Reporter. “Student opinion is the most powerful measure in the effectiveness of the program and we support the efforts in seeking such feedback.”
UH reportedly receives a little less than $1 million a year for five years to pay for the Pono Choices program.
Authored by Maggie Lit
Published with permission