The Hawaii Department of Education has lifted its suspension of the ‘Pono Choices’ sexual education program after concluding that its lessons are medically accurate and appropriate. 

Pono Choices, which was developed by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Center on Disability Studies through federal funding, was put on hold last month in the aftermath of the same-sex marriage debates in which opponents cited the program as evidence that the DOE was promoting gay sex and other so-called indecent behavior.

“Our review not only affirmed that the curriculum meets department standards, but it also showed that Pono Choices is a culturally responsive curriculum that has resulted in positive outcomes for students,” stated Leila Hayashida, assistant superintendent for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support. “In this case that means more youth abstaining from sex and less teen pregnancy and STI transmission.”  

Twelve public schools have signed up to use Pono Choices next semester. Pono Choices is one of seven sex-ed lesson plans available to schools.

Letters sent to parents of students who are slated to participate in the Pono Choices program invite them to a “Pono Choices Parent Night”

Parents can choose to opt their children out of any class that addresses reproductive health, according to the DOE. 

Read Chad Blair’s recent column about the ‘Pono Choices’ controversy.


Photo: Pono Choices curriculum. (Courtesy of UH.)

— Alia Wong