East Grand to consider new curriculum for sex education
East Grand School District is looking to adopt a new sexual education curriculum to align with state law.
The change comes after the passing of last year’s House Bill 1032 that requires Colorado schools teach comprehensive human sexuality education with LGBTQ inclusive instruction and prohibits abstinence only education.
Principal Cindy Rimmer explained at Tuesday’s school board meeting that a committee including a school nurse, social worker, counselor, principal and parent selected the curriculum out of six state-approved curricula.
The 3Rs curriculum — short for rights, respect and responsibility — would replace East Grand’s previous sex education plan, which did not meet the new legislative requirement. The committee selected it in March, but the school board never approved it.
Board members raised issues as to why this curriculum only came to their attention Monday. Superintendent Frank Reeves explained that because of the timing of the committee’s decision, just days before the schools closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the change fell through the cracks.
“It got lost in everything else that was happening,” Reeves said.
Board policy requires that curriculum changes be approved, and as teachers began asking about the new lessons, staff realized the board had not yet accepted it. However, the chosen curriculum has already been tied to a grant used to provide training on the subject.
Some parents commented at the board meeting requesting more time to review the curriculum while others asked that it not be implemented at all, calling it “agenda driven.”
June Matson, executive director of the anti-abortion organization Pregnancy Resource Center, called the group that designed the curriculum “concerning” and pushed for the schools to teach sexual risk avoidance rather than sexual risk reduction. She added that there are “better” curricula available that meet the state requirements.
While the board acknowledged those concerns, the high school and middle school principals emphasized that the committee’s choice had little to do with content beyond the curriculum being medically accurate, research driven and evidence based.
“What we were looking at was more how the curriculum was laid out, ease of teaching, ease of access, this is all online, amount of training, those kinds of things,” East Grand Middle School Principal Jenny Rothboek said. “We were looking at it not from a concept-based standpoint … because there’s legislation telling us what concepts need to be covered.”
The principals added that parents have the option to review and opt their students out of any or all health related lessons.
Rimmer also pointed out that a survey of 342 Middle Park students found 44.4% have had sexual intercourse.
“To not provide some level of health instruction would be a disservice to our students,” she said.
Rimmer added that the curriculum also offered a Spanish version, lessons for all grade levels, training and an easily navigable website. She also liked that 3Rs addressed the learning needs of special education students, which not all curricula did.
The school board agreed to wait on approving the curriculum to give both parents and the board time to review it further. The board will discuss it again at the Nov. 3 meeting. While this is election night, Reeves said he would keep the meeting brief and focused on this topic.
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