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AUSTIN ISD REVEALS SEX ED CURRICULUM SURVEY RESULTS

Dec 7, 2018 by

12.6.18 – Austin American-Statesman

“Austin ISD reveals sex ed curriculum survey results”

The Austin school board could vote on changes to the sex ed curriculum in February.

By Melissa B. Taboada 

Full article

Excerpts from this article:

Parents split on how early kids should learn about sexual orientation, HIV, but strongly support the youngest learning refusal skills.

Austin district parents appear split on how early elementary school students should learn about issues like sexual orientation, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but strongly support teaching the youngest children refusal skills, including how to clearly say no or leave an uncomfortable situation.

The responses are part of preliminary results of a survey on what the district should teach in sex education.

The survey, which closed last Friday, sought input from parents, campus advisory councils, teachers and high school students enrolled in health courses on proposed revisions to district sex education curriculum for elementary and middle schools.

The feedback will be incorporated into the school district’s revamped sex education curriculum, Human Sexuality and Responsibility, which is being overhauled for the first time in more than a decade for grades three through eight, and later for younger years. The Austin school board could vote on the revisions in late February.

The district received 5,863 survey responses, including 4,704 from parents and guardians — about 10 percent of the district’s families — and 496 from teachers and staff members.

In addition to the survey answers, the respondents also submitted “thousands” of comments, and many did not choose any of the survey answers but instead gave their input through the free form answers, district officials said. The district is still going through all of those comments and won’t release that information until redacting personal student information…

The survey asked when students should learn about different topics, dividing questions by grade levels: kindergarten through second grade; third through fifth; and sixth through eighth. The survey did not provide parents the option to choose no grade except by filling out the comment boxes.

The district is expected to release the complete survey results after adding in a handful of remaining results from campus advisory committees and students that had not yet been included. It is unclear when the comments will be released.

Members of the Student Health Advisory Council, which is made up of parents and community members that advice the district on health, P.E. and sex ed, have asked the school district multiple times to update the curriculum and teach in earlier grades more information about consent, same-sex relationships, gender identity and protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Committee members and parents have said at school meetings that such information is overdue and the district should provide sex education that is inclusive to the needs of LGBT students.

However, other parents have said some of the information is inappropriate to be taught in schools and raised concerns that the district’s survey didn’t give them the choice to say the topics shouldn’t be introduced at all or should be delayed until later grades.

This summer, several parents expressed concern that the district was adopting the new curriculum standards without input. They also took issue that SHAC members have not been approved in several years by the school board, a state requirement, even as new ones have been added. They also complained there was too little diversity of thought on the council, saying those with more conservative views who applied to get on the committee were not appointed. Such issues prompted more than one grievance against the school district. Since then, the district sought community input through the survey and in September, trustees approved the advisory council’s member roster for the first time in years.

The topics that could be introduced as early as third grade include: describing reproductive anatomy and terminology; describing the process of human reproduction; defining HIV and methods of transmission and prevention; defining sexual harassment; defining sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender; and identifying parents or other trusted adults of whom students can ask questions about sexual orientation.

As early as sixth grade, topics could include: differentiating between gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation; explaining the range of gender roles; analyzing external influences that have an impact on one’s attitudes about gender, sexual orientation and gender identity; explaining the benefits, risks and effectiveness of various methods of contraception, including abstinence and condoms; describing the steps to using a condom correctly; and describing situations and behaviors that constitute sexual harassment and assault.

Lessons for kindergarten through second grade aren’t scheduled to be revised for a couple of years, but the survey does allow input on lesson topics that later could be introduced. Such topics could include teaching proper words for body parts, including penis and vulva; learning that all people, including children, have the right to tell others not to touch their body when they do not want to be touched; and demonstrating how to clearly say no, how to leave an uncomfortable situation, and how to identify and talk with a trusted adult if someone is touching them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

SURVEY RESULTS

These are some of the results from the Austin school district’s survey on what should be taught in the revamped sex ed curriculum. It is unclear how many respondents added or only offered written comments.

Topics being introduced in kindergarten through second grades:

In what grade should students be taught that all people, including children, have the right to tell others not to touch their body when they do not want to be touched?

91 percent: Kinder, first and second;

4 percent: first and second;

3 percent: second grade only;

1 percent: kinder and first.

Another 652 respondents, or 11 percent, did not choose any of the grades.

===================

In what grade should students be taught how to identify different kinds of family structures?

80 percent: kinder, first and second;

9 percent: first and second;

8 percent: second grade only;

1 percent: kinder and first.

Another 728 respondents, or 12 percent, did not choose any of the grades.

================

In what grade should students be taught how to use proper names for body parts, including male and female anatomy (such as penis, nipples and vulva)?

63 percent: kinder, first and second;

23 percent: second grade only;

12 percent: first and second;

1 percent: kinder and first

1,066 of respondents, or 18 percent, did not choose any of the grades.

=================

Topics being introduced in third through fifth grades:

In what grade should students be taught about defining sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender?

46 percent: third, fourth and fifth

21 percent: fourth and fifth

31 percent: fifth grade only

=================

In what grade should students be taught how to identify parents or other trusted adults of whom students can ask questions about sexual orientation?

52 percent: third, fourth and fifth

20 percent: fourth and fifth

26 percent: fifth grade only

1 percent: third and fourth

378 respondents, or 6 percent, did not choose any of the grades.

===============

In what grade should students be taught about the process of human reproduction? 

31 percent: third, fourth and fifth

24 percent: fourth and fifth

44 percent: fifth grade only

479 respondents, or 8 percent, did not choose any of the grades.

=================

In what grade should students be taught about HIV and some age-appropriate methods of transmission, as well as ways to prevent? 

23 percent: third, fourth and fifth

21 percent: fourth and fifth

55 percent: fifth grade only

619 respondents, or 11 percent, did not choose any of the grades.

=====================

Topics being introduced in grades six through eight:

In what grade should students be taught how to differentiate between gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation? 

78 percent: sixth, seventh and eighth

10 percent: seventh and eighth

8 percent: eighth grade only

1 percent: sixth and eighth

1 percent: sixth and seventh

============

In what grade should students be taught about medically accurate information about emergency contraception? 

64 percent: sixth, seventh and eighth

18 percent: eighth grade only

16 percent: seventh and eighth

1 percent: sixth and seventh

==============

In what grade should students be taught about the steps to using a condom correctly?

59 percent: sixth, seventh, eighth

22 percent: eighth grade only

16 percent: seventh and eighth

1 percent: sixth and seventh

1 percent: sixth and eighth

647 respondents, or 11 percent, did not choose any of the grades.

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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