Tell the Worcester School Committee: Vote NO on the abstinence-based Michigan Model sex education proposal
Parents, teens, educators and medical experts agree: Worcester youth deserve sex education that is medically accurate, teaches about consent, and is inclusive of LGBTQ identities.

That’s why a coalition known as the W.I.S.H. Taskforce has been urging the city of Worcester for the last three years to adopt a curriculum that will meet the real health needs of all of Worcester’s young people. But in a disappointing turn of events, the Worcester School Committee has announced plans to vote next Thursday, February 7th on an abstinence-based sex education program known as the “Michigan Model.” To be clear, this program is dangerously inadequate.

The Michigan Model will move Worcester in the wrong direction. The program entirely excludes lessons about affirmative consent, how to prevent pregnancy, and LGBTQ youth. Worcester’s young people deserve better.

We must make it abundantly clear to the Mayor and the School Committee: incomplete, shame-based sex education has no place in Worcester Public Schools.

Can you take action to make ensure Mayor Petty and the Worcester School Committee vote NO on the Michigan Model? Fill out this form to join the effort!
Step 1: Sign the open letter to the Worcester School Committee!
FULL LETTER:

Dear Members of the Worcester School Committee:

We are parents, educators, health care providers, youth workers, and residents of Worcester. We write to request that you, as our representatives on the Worcester School Committee, stand with us and vote “NO” on the proposal to implement the abstinence-based Michigan Model sex education curriculum in Worcester Public Schools.

We take no issue with Michigan Model’s broader health curriculum that has been proven to prevent substance use and help your young people care for their mental health. However, Michigan Model’s abstinence-based sex education curriculum is dangerously inadequate. The proposed program does not include lessons about how to prevent pregnancy. The program ignores the health needs of LGBTQ youth, denying them the information they need to make healthy decisions. And at a time when our country is grappling with a pervasive culture of sexual violence, the Michigan Model would perpetuate harmful stereotypes about sexual assault, placing responsibility on a victim to prevent their own assault. Schools can be valuable partners to parents when it comes to sex education, but the shaming tactics used in abstinence-based programs like the Michigan Model can stigmatize conversations about sex, making young people less likely to talk to a trusted adult when they need help.

The School Committee cannot implement an abstinence-based curriculum at a time when Worcester urgently needs an evidence-based and comprehensive sex education curriculum. Our city has one of the highest teen birth rates in the state with 13.2 births per 1,000 teen girls. Worcester also experiences significantly higher rate of sexually transmitted infections than the state has a whole, and young people are disproportionately affected. We cannot turn away from these alarming trends. We cannot settle for the Michigan Model’s sex education program, which has not been proven effective in helping teens delay sex or reducing STI rates and unintended pregnancy among teens. We must provide our young people information and resources proven to make a difference in young people’s lives.

We can empower our young people by implementing a sex education curriculum that is evidence-based, inclusive to LGBTQ youth, and comprehensive. A comprehensive curriculum is one that includes lessons about consent and healthy communication, unintended pregnancy and STI prevention, and the benefits of delaying sex. This approach improves the health of young people and helps them make healthy decisions. Such programs are proven to delay the initiation of sex, reduce the frequency of sex, and prevent sexually transmitted infections among young people.

Efforts to supplement this abstinence-based curriculum are not enough. The health of Worcester’s young people is not something that we should address through piecemeal efforts, when we know what works. While training teachers and administrators is important, LGBTQ youth deserve to see themselves reflected in the actual curriculum and their classroom experiences should not hinge on how well trained their individual teacher is to amend the lessons in real time. This incomplete and inadequate approach will not help our young people delay sex or stay healthy.

Our public schools have a responsibility to educate, support, and empower all Worcester youth. The Michigan Model’s sex education program falls short on all fronts. We ask that you vote to oppose the implementation of the Michigan Model until its inadequate sex education curriculum is replaced with an evidence-based, comprehensive sex education curriculum.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

To view a copy of the fully formatted letter, visit: http://bit.ly/michiganmodelworcester
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Step 2: Contact the School Committee!
These are the key votes we need to persuade:

Mayor Petty: 508-799-1153, Mayor@worcesterma.gov
Molly McCullough: 774-502-8731, Mcculloughm@worcesterschools.net
Dianna Biancheria: 508-753-3440, BiancheriaD@worcesterschools.net

Find a phone script and a sample e-mail here: http://bit.ly/no-mi-model-scripts
Use these as a guide, and make sure to add and emphasize the personal reason you're taking action
Will you reach out to the Mayor and the School Committee and ask them to vote NO on the Michigan Model? *
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Step 3: Speak out at the February 7th School Committee Meeting!
The Worcester School Committee will vote on the Michigan Model next Thursday, February 7th. The meeting will take place in the Esther Howland Chamber at Worcester City Hall, 455 Main Street.
Will you attend the School Committee Meeting next Thursday, February 7th and help make it clear that the community expects a NO vote? *
Please arrive by 6:30 PM to ensure that you will be seated. The meeting will begin at 7 PM. If you're unavailable, please consider sharing written testimony (see below).
Will you submit testimony at the School Committee Meeting? *
Stories are powerful in influencing decision makers. Testimony can be either written and submitted beforehand or delivered publicly at the meeting. We will reach out to you to help you prepare to give public testimony if you select that option.
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Share your testimony below.
Please share below why you oppose the Michigan Model's Sex Education curriculum and why you request the School Committee choose a curriculum that is medically accurate and inclusive to LGBTQ youth. (i.e. As a parent/young person/educator, I've seen or experienced first hand that...)
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