New sex education initiatives sparking debate

Moves to revise sex ed programs in California, Arizona and Texas lead to parent protests
By: | October 3, 2019
New debates about how and when sex education in schools should be taught, and what topics should be covered, come amid possible sex ed policy changes.gettyimages.com: stevanovicigor

New debates about how and when sex education in schools should be taught, and what topics should be covered, are emerging as states and districts reconsider their sex ed curriculum.

In California, parents in Anaheim recently protested the passage of  California Healthy Youth Act this year, as reported by CBS Los Angeles

California’s new sex ed policy requires schools to provide comprhensive sex ed at least once in high school and once in middle school, including topics such as how to ward off HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, reports the Mountain Democrat

Districts are allowed to offer age-appropriate sex education earlier if they so choose. Previously, California educators had to teach HIV prevention, but a broader curriculum of sex education in schools was not mandatory.


From DA: Schools can’t do sex ed alone


In Arizona, the Tucson school board recently delayed action on a proposed sex ed curriculum for grades 4 through 12 after parents protested the move, as reported by KOLD News 13.

The optional curriculum would include topics related to the LGBTQ community, use more gender-neutral language and teach that families don’t always have one father and one mother, KOLD News 13 reported.


From DA: How to develop an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum


Meanwhile, in Texas, a battle over sex ed erupted last month when two progressive groups told the state Board of Education that health courses should be revamped to give children more explicit instruction about contraception and sexually transmitted illnesses, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The conservative group Texas Values responded, saying the two groups have a “radical agenda” that State Board of Education members should resist, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Sex education in schools requires partnerships

To effectively teach sex ed, administrators should consider partnering with some private and quasi-public enterprises that can provide sex ed to kids outside of the classroom, Jonathan Zimmerman, author of Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education told DA. 

Additionally, try to bring different members of the community together to figure out what it is that they want,” said Zimmerman, who also serves as a professor of history and education at New York University. “It may well be that you as a principal are assuming certain things about community sentiment that aren’t true. But the only way to find out is to talk to the community.”

Resource: A guide to sex education laws by state