Wednesday, November 21, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 37
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Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on November 7th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 36 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 36

Lompoc parents have until Nov. 9 to review proposed sex ed curricula

By Kasey Bubnash

When Jessica Collier was in school, she didn't attend sex ed.

Her parents were conservative, and Collier said that along with a strict "no dating policy," they didn't want her learning about sex and puberty in school. They signed a contract opting Collier out of sex ed, and each day when health class turned to reproduction, Collier was called up and pulled out of class–in front of everyone. 

It was embarrassing, but Collier said the worst part was missing out on a sexual health education. Sex didn't come up in school, for obvious legal reasons; with her peers, who thought it was weird that she'd been banished from class; or with her parents, who she said struggled just getting through a basic conversation about menstruation. 


ABSTINENCE VS. SAFE SEX
Cal Poly’s Safer made T-shirts with the words “I [heart] consensual sex” emblazoned on a black background to promote consensual sex in 2015. Consent is now included in most sexual health education curricula.
FILE PHOTO BY KAORI FUNAHASHI

Collier said the lack of any formal sex education directly contributed to her becoming a parent of four at an early age. 

"I think a lot of that was just a severe lack of information," she said. 

That's why Collier, now a Lompoc resident and president of the Cabrillo High School Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), is in support of her kids getting a thorough sex education in school. She hopes that by giving her kids more accurate information about sexual health they'll have the opportunity to make different choices.

That's what Lompoc Unified School District has been working toward for months in an effort to meet requirements laid out in the California Healthy Youth Act, a state law passed in 2016 that requires school districts to provide comprehensive sexual health education, including information about HIV prevention, at least once in both junior high and high school. 

But when the district first added its proposed updated sex education curriculum to a board meeting agenda in September, numerous parents pushed back against the changes, citing concerns with inappropriate, overly detailed material they felt promoted sex. 

As a result, the district put its decision regarding the curriculum on hold and created an administrative task force to focus on parent outreach. Since then, the district has hosted 10 community forums regarding sex education and the California Healthy Youth Act, and six sexual health education curricula that meet the standards required by law are available for parent viewing and feedback. 

As a parent of two children currently in middle and high school in the district, Collier said she reviewed each of the six curricula and gave detailed feedback in an online survey. She didn't have an overall favorite but said she liked certain portions of each, including the way some handled information regarding sexual assault and gender identity. 

But not everyone agrees. 

As president of the PTSA, Collier said she's heard from dozens of parents, each with differing thoughts. Some, she said, don't want sex talked about at all in school. Others would prefer a larger, or total, focus on abstinence. Some don't want their kids to learn about condoms in middle school, or about varying gender identities, sexual orientations, and specific sexual acts. 

It's a personal topic, Collier said, and "everyone is having a really, really different reaction."

Brian Jaramillo, director of pupil support services with the district, and head of its task force on the California Healthy Youth Act, said parents will have until Nov. 9 to view each of the proposed six curricula and give feedback online or in person. 

Later this month, he said teachers will have a half day off to do the same. Then the task force will analyze those responses and make a recommendation to the board, hopefully by Dec. 11. Then it's up to the board. 

Although Jaramillo said many parents have voiced their concerns with the upcoming changes and the process has been a bit long, he hopes they've felt heard throughout the past few months of outreach. And if parents still don't want their children learning about sex at school, he said there's always an option to opt out.

"I hope parents see that we're really trying to engage them and get their perspective," Jaramillo said. "Ultimately I think there are some parents who won't like anything." 

Staff Writer Kasey Bubnash writes School Scene each week. Information can be sent to the Sun via mail, fax, or email at mail@santamariasun.com. 




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