East Grand board approves new sex education curriculum
The East Grand School District has approved a sexual education curriculum months after the topic was first brought to the board.
In October, the 3Rs curriculum was recommended to the board of education for approval. The sexual education curriculum had to be updated because of a new state law requiring Colorado schools teach comprehensive human sexuality education with LGBTQ inclusive instruction and prohibiting abstinence only education.
The 3Rs — which stands for Rights, Respect and Responsibility — brought disdain and a petition from members of the community who disagreed with the curriculum.
Specific concerns highlighted the writer of the curriculum, Advocates for Youth, as being closely associated with Planned Parenthood. There were also worries about anti-abortion pregnancy centers being called “fake clinics” in the lessons.
Additional issues were raised over the age-appropriateness of some of the lessons and whether the curriculum properly addressed the risks associated with early sexual behavior.
In response to these concerns, a new committee was formed of parents, teachers and community members who spent the past couple months going over various sex ed curricula to make a recommendation to the school board.
East Grand Health and Wellness coordinator and physical education teacher James Williams organized the effort, regularly updating the school board on the process.
“We’ve done our due diligence on this and we stand behind the recommendations we’ve made,” Williams told the board Tuesday. “We hope the board can see the value in the work that we’ve done and we appreciate the time that you’ve given us.”
The committee recommended both the 3Rs and FLASH curricula for the middle school and high school, and FLASH and OWL curricula for the elementary level.
FLASH is a widely used sexual health education curriculum developed by the health department in Seattle and King County to prevent teen pregnancy, STDs, and sexual violence, and to increase knowledge about the reproductive system and puberty. OWL, short for Our Whole Lives, is a sexuality curriculum for children published by the Unitarian Universalist Association.
While Flash is recommended for all levels, Williams explained that the curriculum by itself left a number of holes that the supplemental recommendations need to fill.
“3Rs obviously has a lot of content,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of content we don’t see fit for our kids. They also have some really nice supplementary stuff specifically around healthy relationships and interpersonal communication skills that Flash doesn’t necessarily have.”
Parents will still be notified of sexual education plans and can opt their children out of any or all lessons.
“All of this empowers parents that have concerns to take action if they are feeling that they don’t want their kids exposed to topic X,” board member Chris Raines said. “… There’s nothing being crammed down anybody’s throat here.”
Board President Ed Raegner, whose daughter was included in the pilot sex ed program for the ninth grade class, added that the process has gone well according to the students he’s talked to, with no one being spotlighted for opting out of specific lessons.
“I think those concerns, in the first round execution, you guys did a really good job of that,” Raegner said.
The board voted to adopt the committee’s recommendations with member Trevor Corbin dissenting.
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