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Archive for Monday, May 13, 2013

School board moves forward on sex ed curriculum

May 13, 2013

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A representative speaking for Lawrence's gay student community expressed full support Monday for the Lawrence school board's plan to update the district's sex education curriculum.

"Sex education is a huge priority for our organization," said Rachel Gadd-Nelson, of Lawrence Queer Youth Voice, a group that represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youths in Lawrence.

Gadd-Nelson, a Kansas University graduate and an adult organizer for the group, said one of the group's main activities in recent months has been conducting student-led sex education workshops, "because they're not getting access to it in schools."

Her comments came after the school board heard a presentation about steps it would need to take to incorporate new national guidelines into the district's current human sexuality curriculum.

Updating the Lawrence district's curriculum by incorporating the national standards is listed as one of the "action steps" the board approved last year as part of its goal of improving curriculum and instruction throughout the district.

The current curriculum is built around standards that the Kansas State Board of Education adopted in 2006.

The national standards would require additional material to be taught. Among other things, it would add more information about forms of birth control other than contraception, and specific material about sexual orientation.

The standards would also include more human sexuality content in the seventh- and eighth-grade health curriculum.

Board President Vanessa Sanburn said the state standards do not mandate an "abstinence-only" curriculum when teaching about birth control — the state guidelines leave that decision up to local districts — but many school officials mistakenly believe that they are abstinence-only standards.

"Over the last several years I've spoken with teachers, social welfare workers and nurses who want to provide more comprehensive information to students but are sometimes unclear about what information they can share without putting their jobs in jeopardy," Sanburn said.

"With these new standards, I expect our district will provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance and professional development focused on delivering sexuality education at all grade levels that is planned, simple and short, and part of a comprehensive school health approach," she said.

Sanburn said the district will continue working on an updated curriculum document in hopes of having a final document ready for the board to vote on by June.

Ag classes now count as natural science credits

In other business, the board approved allowing students to earn natural science credit for certain agricultural classes.

Until now, courses in plant science and animal science have been part of the district's career and technical education program.

But the Kansas Board of Regents recently voted to allow those courses to count as natural science credits that could count toward the state's "qualified admissions standards," a set of requirements that qualifies students for automatic admission to any of the state's six Regents universities.

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Contact Journal-World education reporter Elliot Hughes: ehughes@ljworld.com

Comments

optimist 1 year, 7 months ago

Sex ed is a sensitive subject that has not only social impact but impacts family moral values and religious beliefs. The local school district should require opt in for these classes before they influence children in ways that contradict the parents objectives for raising their children. For the state or local government to inject itself without invitation in these matters is inappropriate. These classes can be addressed after hours at various times of the year to ensure that there is opt in and valuable class time is not wasted on it rather than the basic education we all want for our children.

KSManimal 1 year, 7 months ago

Really? You think kids are going to have sex or use contraception simply because they've learned about it in school? Well, I guess we'd better not teach about the holocaust either....'cause if kids learn about something...then they're gonna go out and do it.....

Or perhaps you haven't thought far enough ahead to realize that today's kids will be tomorrow's adults; and that we aren't just educating them for things they will make THEIR OWN DECISIONS about RIGHT NOW. Rather, we're educating them about things that will effect them for the rest of their lives.

What possible good can come from selectively withholding information from people?

KSManimal 1 year, 7 months ago

Given that citizens have the right to keep and bear arms, it is completely unconscionable that we don't have firearm education in K-12 schools. It's like we think that at the magic age of 21, people will miraculously gain all they need to know about responsible gun ownership by some divine intervention.....

...kinda like the right-wing-religious folks believe about sex ed, come to think of it.

workinghard 1 year, 7 months ago

There use to be an opt out option for sex ed in Lawrence public schools some years back. There could still be, worth checking out if you don't want your child to participate.

workinghard 1 year, 7 months ago

They need to bring back drivers ed class as part of the curriculum. I think the kids would be better drivers if they could take it over a semester.

Elizabeth Halsey 1 year, 7 months ago

Regardless of gun rights or control...sex...social media...we want our kids informed and safe. Repetition is they key to learning. Maybe they will get something at school they don't get at home - or at least reinforcement of safety. The schools and teachers have a lot of responsibility and have my utmost respect. If possible, I would love to see facts shared with the kids from a school setting. As for driver's ed, now they let them test ahead so they're done in like two weeks (or private lessons done in a weekend). I agree on dragging that out a bit for more exposure. My son didn't even come away with how to put air in the tire!

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