EXAMPLES FROM CHOOSING THE BEST PATH (8th GRADE)
Below please find three examples from Choosing the Best Path, which will be taught to 8th graders. As mentioned earlier, these are but a few examples. We encourage you to obtain the teacher's guides (or Leader Guides) for the Choosing the Best curricula and study them for yourselves.
Lesson 1: “Sex. Everybody is talking about it”
The materials for 7th, 8th and 9th grade all stress the negative emotional effects of sexual activity outside of marriage. The lists of negative emotional effects vary slightly from Choosing the Best Way to Path to Journey. Here the emotional risks are presented to the 8th graders in the opening lesson.
Activity – The Leader’s Guide states:
“Divide your class into small teams of four or five. Challenge the class to see which team can be first to unscramble the words listed on the bottom of page 7 that identify possible negative emotional consequences of sexual activity. Ask for the answer, and then share specific information about each negative emotional consequence listed below…
1. Guilt – This is a strong sense of having done something wrong. Guilt indicates that the person has values and boundaries that have been violated.
2. Worry – The fear of pregnancy, STDs or HIV can cause a lot of worry and stress.
3. Disappointment – One of the reasons teens become involved sexually is curiosity. When they try sex out of curiosity they often come away feeling disappointed.
4. Loss of self-respect – A temporary sexual relationship can lower both people’s self-respect, sometimes resulting in a cycle of casual sex. This cycle becomes hard to break and makes sex less special, which can produce a loss of dignity and self-worth.
5. Depression – Sometimes the negative emotional consequences just mentioned – guilt, worry, disappointment, loss of self-respect – can lead to depression.” (Choosing the Best Path, Leader Guide, Third Edition, p. 7)
Lesson 2: “The Risks of STDs and HIV/AIDS”
The lesson on emotional risks is followed by the lesson on the risks of STDs. In an in-class workbook exercise, the teacher asks the students to fill in the blanks in a series of statements regarding STDs, located at page 10 of the student workbook. One of the statements reads:
“7. The only way to totally eliminate the risk of contracting an STD is to:
Be _________ (abstinent) until marriage, marry an __________ (uninfected) person and, both people must remain _________ (faithful) in the marriage relationship. Further both partners must not participate in other high risk activities (e.g., IV drug use).” (Choosing the Best Path, Leader Guide, Third Edition, p.10)
Although the lesson does mention that a number of STD’s can be treated, at no point does Choosing the Best Path (or Way or Journey) recommend that sexually active students to see their doctor, talk to their doctor, or be in conversation with their doctor so that asymptomatic infections can be diagnosed and treated.
Lesson 3: “Teen Pregnancy and ‘Safe Sex’”
The third risk—teen pregnancy—is presented in lesson 3. Again, the major emphasis here is on the ineffectiveness of contraceptives, particularly condoms. Importantly, every time the phrase "safe sex" appears in the Choosing the Best materials, it is put in quotation marks.
The teacher says:
“Condoms do fail.” [He/she asks a student to read the following statements and another student to fill in the blanks at the whiteboard. The "correct" answers, according to the Leader Guide, are listed in the parentheses below.]
“-- Because latex condoms are made of rubber, they can ________ (break) and ____________ (slip off). Studies show that this occurs ___ (1) to ____ (4)% of the time.
-- Typical couples who use condoms for birth control experience a first year failure rate of ______ % (15%) in preventing pregnancies.”
The teacher then says:
“Condoms do not eliminate the risk of contracting STDs.” [He/she asks a student to read the following statements and another student to fill in the blanks at the whiteboard.]
“-- For condoms to most effectively reduce the risk of contracting STDs they must be used consistently, _________ (every) time, and correctly. When used every time, condoms are:
** Most effective against HIV, reducing the risk by ______% (85) versus not using a condom at all. However, ____% (15) of the risk remains for a life threatening disease with no cure.
** Approximately ____% (50) effective in reducing the risk of STDs spread by body _________ (fluids), such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis. However, _____% (50) of the risk remains.
** Less effective in reducing the risk of STDs spread by _______ (skin) to __________ (skin) contact (e.g. herpes, syphilis). Condoms offer _______ (no) protection if the infection is located outside the area covered by the condom.
** Studies also show that condoms are less effective in protecting against _____ (HPV), the most common viral STD. However, some risk reduction may occur with HPV related symptoms (e.g. genital warts and cervical cancer).”
“According to the CDC, condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD. Is ‘safe or safer sex’ safe enough? ________” (no)
“____________ (Abstinence) provides the only 100% protection again contracting an STD.” (Choosing the Best Path, Leader Guide, Third Edition, p. 18, emphasis in original materials)
The only other information provided on any method of contraception is the failure rates. No information is provided what the various kinds of contraceptives are, how to use them consistently or effectively, health side effects, etc…. Only negatively framed failure rates are provided.
NOTE: Medical professionals who have reviewed these materials have expressed extreme concern to the Cedarburg School Board that this program sends a dangerous message to teens that condoms are not effective, and therefore, there is no point in using them when they eventually do decided to become sexually active.
Lesson 5: “Choosing the Best Path”
In Lesson 5 of the 8th grade book, abstinence is defined for the first time. Until now, the message has been to remain abstinent until marriage, but the materials have not defined what teens are to abstain from. The teacher is to say:
“Let’s be sure we’re talking about the same thing. Fill in the missing word(s) to define abstinence in this ABC formula.
-- Abstinence is the
-- Best preparation for the ____________(future) by
-- Choosing not to engage in these at-risk sexual behaviors:
_______________ (sexual intercourse), ______________ (oral sex),
________________ (anal sex), and _______________ (mutual masturbation).” (Choosing the Best Path, Leader Guide, Third Edition, p. 28-29)
The definition ends here. The program does not define or explain what these four at-risk sexual behaviors are.
Activity: “Make Your Own Bed”
The following activity appears in Lesson 5. The teacher is to:
“Ask for 13 volunteers – eight girls and five guys – and give each a sign with a name on it to hold. Spread out the sheet, blanket, or quilt. Explain that this is Michael and Makayla’s wedding bed. [The school will not use the quilt but instead have the students stand at the front of the class, or something similar] Instruct each person to sit on the marriage bed as his or her name is called. Read the following story.
Say: Makayla is 23 years old and a registered nurse. Michael is an architect who is 25. Makayla and Michael have just been married and are in the honeymoon suite aboard a luxury cruise ship. Dim lights, fragrant roses, champagne with strawberries, and romantic music set the mood. The scene is set for a beautiful beginning of their sexual lives together. Everything is perfect … but they have company.
Makayla considers herself a woman of high values and morals. Prior to meeting Michael, Makayla had only one sexual relationship with a guy named Nathan, whom she really loved at the time. Nathan had two previous sexual partners, Elizabeth and Megan. Megan had one previous sexual partner names Sean. Sean had no previous partner, nor did Elizabeth.
Michael always thought of himself as a man with goals and plans for his future. In his past, however, he had a serious relationship that involved sex with Brianna. Michael also had two casual sexual relationships with Emma and Rachel. Before she met Michael, Brianna had been sexually active with Carlos, who had had one other relationship – Maria. Maria had no other relationships. Emma, however, had been sexually active with Daniel who had one previous relationship with Lauren. Lauren and Rachel had no previous partners.
Ask: What risks are Makayla and Michael taking into their marriage? How much of a threat are these previous sexual partners? (Remind teens of the freedoms they listed earlier in the session.)
Say: What if Makayla had realized that she might fall in love with several different people before she got married? What if Makayla had realized that feelings of love shouldn’t control her decisions? If she had known this, than Nathan, Elizabeth, Megan and Sean would not have been there. …
Ask: What can you learn from this exercise? (The best way to prepare for the future is to be abstinent until marriage).” (Choosing the Best Path, Leader Guide, Third Edition, p. 29, emphasis added)