Shoulders To Stand On                                                                           EC September Issue 2016

Impact of AIDs on Students in American Schools

In 1985 AIDS cases were reported in 51 countires.  Here in the United States at the end of 1985 there were 20,740 AIDS cases nationwide.  There are24 cases in Monroe County, and the first 4 cases are reported in 8 non-urban counties.  In November of 1985 five of the 93 tests done so far in 1985 were positive.  In August of 1985, now four years after HIV/AIDS was identified,  the CDC reported that the results of two Gallup Polls on AIDS indicated that 95% of the US population had heard of AIDS.

In August, 1985 the Center for Disease control (CDC) issued guidelines indicating school-aged children infected with the AIDS virus should be allowed to attend school, and school officials should do their best to protect pupils’ privacy.  The CDC guidelines did say each case should be decided on an individual basis.  It also said there appeared to be no danger of infection from casual contact.  However, the guidelines recommended that that children with AIDS not attend kindergarten or day-care centers because children of that age sometimes bite each other, and that preschoolers and handicapped children be kept out of the school until more is known about how the disease is transmitted.  The CDC also recommended that adoption and foster care agencies administer AIDS antibody tests to children whose parents were in high-risk groups, or whose parents’ histories were not known.

In September, 1985 in Queens, NY parents in two community school districts organized a boycott to protest the city’s decision to allow a second grader with AIDS to attend regular classes.  11,000 students stayed home on the first day; 9,000 did so on the second day.  On September 8, 1985 the Orlando Sentinel reported the question of whether children who have AIDS should be allowed to attend public schools had sparked heated debate in some states.  At the same time Orange County, Florida barred a 5 yr. old with AIDS from kindergarten despite the recommendation by the Florida Medical Assn that students and teachers who have AIDS should not be denied access to public schools.  The Orlando Sentinel also reported that until Swansea, Mass.,had  admitted an AIDS victim recently, no public school system had done so. Parents were fearful of infection and skeptical of the reassurances of medical experts.  Also in September, 1985 in Los Angeles a 3-year-old boywith AIDS was barred from class for handicapped children.  It was decided that he would receive private instruction at home if he was accepted into the county special education program.

In October, 1985 New York City Schools Chancellor Nathan Quinones reveals that 3 children were removed from classes because their mothers’ boyfriends were suspected of having AIDS.  The national education Assn suggested that districts decide on a case-by-case basis whether children with AIDS should attend regular classes.  In December, 1985 a school district in Hazelwood, MO dropped training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation because of fear that high school students might be exposed to AIDS.  In August 1986 6 of 13 children in New York City known to have AIDS or AIDS-related complex were allowed to attend public schools.  In March, 1987 many schools throughout New York’s metropolitan region begin to teach students about AIDS, its transmission and methods of prevention.

In June, 1986 the American Medical Association maintains public schools should be open to children with AIDS, except for pre-schoolers and handicapped children.  In August, 1986 New York City officials allowed 6 of 13 children known to have AIDS, or a less severe disorder, IDS-related complex will be allowed to attend public schools.  The identities of the children and schools were not disclosed.

In February, 1987 the Reagan administration issued an AIDS education plan that called for specific information to be made available to Americans on how to prevent the spread of the disease, and included the use of condoms for sexually active people.  California approved AIDS education in high school.  At the same time, throughout New York metropolitan region, many school began to teach students about AIDS, its transmission, and methods of prevention.

In April, 1987 ronald Reagan announced “We have declared AIDS public health enemy number one.”  Due to the passage of the “Helms amendment” which prevented federal funding of any AIDS education efforts that “encouraged or promoted homos4exual activity”. The Monroe County legislature approved $100,000 for funding community based programs and in February, 1988 Monroe county school districts began implementing the AIDS curriculum developed by the “Minority Committee” in December, 1986.  AIDS and the Education of Our Children: A Guide for Parents and Children written in October 1987 primarily by Education Secretary William J. Bennett, urged all parents and teachers to stress ‘appropriate moral and social conduct’ as the first line of defense against the spread of the AIDS virus.

As of last October, 2015, the US Dept. of Ed. policy on the placement of children with AIDS attending school comes from policies developed in 1991 and updated on a regular basis  The law of which Section 504 is a part defines a handicapped person as one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is perceived as having such an impairment. For example, while some individuals with AIDS are substantially impaired physically, virtually all individuals with AIDS are regarded as having an impairment.  Children with AIDS are identified as qualified handicapped persons, and therefore are eligible to receive any and all benefits allowed under law.

In terms of AIDs education All states are somehow involved in sex education for public schoolchildren.  As of March 1, 2016:

– 24 states and the District of Columbia require public schools teach sex education (21 of which

mandate sex education and HIV education).

– 33 states and the District of Columbia require students receive instruction about HIV/AIDS.

– 20 states require that if provided, sex and/or HIV education must be medically, factually or

technically accurate.

Many states define parents’ rights concerning sexual education:

– 38 states and the District of Columbia require school districts to allow parental involvement in

sexual education programs.

– Four states require parental consent before a child can receive instruction.

– 35 states and the District of Columbia allow parents to opt-out on behalf of their children.

Shoulders To Stand On is in awe of all of school aged children who have AIDS.  Attitudes toward “handicapped” persons has changed, but they are still not embraced with openness and acceptance.  STSO is proud of all those students who stand tall with dignity and pride.


Next month we will begin to look at AIDS research and treatment.







Rochester AIDS History Chapter 18

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