Daily Dispatches
Hawaii state Rep. Bob McDermott
Associated Press/Photo by Oskar Garcia
Hawaii state Rep. Bob McDermott

Vital Signs: Hawaii educators hide ‘sensitive’ sex-ed curriculum from legislators

Abortion

Too sensitive? Hawaii’s Department of Education (DOE) denied access to state legislators who wanted to view a controversial Planned Parenthood-supported sex ed curriculum currently taught in 12 middle schools in the state. The program could be expanded to 30 more schools.

Parents and teachers have complained about the curriculum to state Sen. Sam Slom and Rep. Bob McDermott, who both tried unsuccessfully to view copies of the curriculum. DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said they refused the requests because “the curriculum is sensitive in nature and can be misinterpreted.”

The curriculum, which was developed by the University of Hawaii and Planned Parenthood using an $800,000 teen pregnancy prevention grant, teaches middle school students about same-sex relationships, oral and anal sex, and how to use a condom.

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DOE halted the program for an investigation on Nov. 29, 2013. But in what Slom calls the “fastest ‘investigation’ in Hawaii history,” the DOE announced two weeks later it did not find anything contrary to the department’s standards, and allowed teachers to continue to use the curriculum.

“It is outrageous that a state legislator … as an elected official and a father of public school children, cannot get this information,” McDermott said at a press conference.

Trafficking. A Chinese court gave obstetrician Zhang Shuxia a suspended death sentence Jan. 14 for trafficking newborns in her care.

Zhang sold seven babies after convincing parents that the infants were infected with incurable diseases or had birth defects. Chinese news source Xinhua reported that Zhang’s trafficking came to light after Zhang told two parents that their baby was infected with a congenital disease. The parents suspected something was wrong after both parents tested negative for the disease. They later found their baby in another province.

Following the revelation of Zhang’s trafficking practices, police received 55 other reports, 26 of which allegedly involved Zhang. Police only found evidence to convict her in six of those cases, Xinhua reported. According to Voice of America, baby trafficking is common in China: 200,000 babies are trafficked in the country yearly.

Four former officials at Zhang’s hospital who stood trial Jan. 6 are still waiting for a verdict.

Missing girls. Abortion of female babies in some ethnic communities in Great Britain has resulted the loss of between 1,400 and 4,700 girls in the British population, according to analysis of national census data by The Independent.

Though Great Britain has criminalized sex-selective abortion, The Independent reported that the practice has affected the previously even boy-to-girl ratio in some immigrant communities, sparking debate about whether women should be forced to wait to learn the sex of their babies until later in their pregnancies, when abortions are more difficult to obtain.

Former Royal College of Obstetricians president Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran struggled to explain the findings because most abortions in Great Britain are performed prior to 13 weeks, when gender determination is unreliable, The Independent reported. However, he told The Independent, “I cannot dispute the facts … but the question is: How did it happen?”

Courtney Crandell
Courtney Crandell

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