- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (AP) - In a first-of-its-kind program in Minnesota, students at St. Louis Park High School are forming a sexual health education club to cover topics they say aren’t getting enough attention in their regular health class.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported Friday (http://bit.ly/1wqjQB4 ) that the student-led club launching in January will cover a multitude of topics including birth control, abstinence and sexually transmitted infections. The club, open to students from grades 9-12, also will discuss how to foster healthy relationships.

It’s been in the works for about six months and involved getting permission from school officials. While it will meet in classroom space, the club won’t receive any school funding and must operate outside of the school day.

Shoshi Fischman, 17, said she and two co-founders had to spell out the topics and detail leader training to get clearance for the program.

“We’re here to educate and instill confidence in people to make their own choices and they can say ‘no’ when they want to say ‘no’ and know how to control their own bodies and do everything that they can do for themselves,” Fischman said. “We’re here to educate people on the topic of safe sex, not just to have sex and not to just promote sex.”

Discussion leaders will receive training from myHealth for Teens and Young Adults, a clinic in Hopkins that specializes in sexual health.

Health teacher Allison Luskey will attend the meetings and serve as adviser, but the discussions will be guided by students. Luskey said parents who feel uncomfortable about students discussing sex should remember their generation is surrounded by sexual images.

“Social media, music, videos, TV, movies - it’s everywhere,” Luskey said. “So I think that they’re learning and they’ve been taught by a lot of different sources that it’s OK to talk about, and OK to have healthy, informative conversations about this, and I think that’s fabulous.”

Co-founder Dave Herrera, 18, said the hope is that even who don’t join the club will be comfortable approaching its leaders with questions or concerns about sex.

“Really, all I want is people to know that we’re there and people like us are out there and that they have resources to go to if they need help for whatever reason,” he said.

St. Louis Park interim principal Scott Meyers, who serves on the school committee that approved the club, said school officials held several meetings with the students who wanted to start the club, and asked lots of questions about what they planned to discuss.

“There’s always a piece where you say ‘Wow, this is a pretty big topic,’” Meyers said. “We don’t want to anyway promote anything. We want to inform and help students make healthy choices.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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