A state-created middle school health and sex education curriculum will continue to be used in the Knappa School District.
A committee tasked by the school district with reviewing “My Future-My Choice” at the request of a parent group concluded Thursday night that it is the only curriculum that meets the state’s standards in their entirety. They decided to reinstate the curriculum after a brief suspension.
Oregon schools are required to teach sex education that recognizes different sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expression. Knappa has used the state’s curriculum for around a decade. Most years, there are at least a few students whose parents opt them out of taking the course.
The curriculum committee felt the opt-out option was a good “check and balance if parents felt uncomfortable,” Superintendent Bill Fritz said.
The state curriculum also includes optional supplementary worksheets and information that teachers can use to deepen students’ understanding of a topic or make it more relevant to their own lives.
The committee determined that teachers should not be prohibited from using these additional materials if they believe it would help their students. However, if a teacher does plan to use the extra materials, this needs to be communicated ahead of time to parents, so families know what students will encounter in the course, Fritz said.
Anyone can read through the state materials online.
Though the curriculum will remain in use, the school district is looking at ways to improve how the opt-out information is communicated to parents. The committee suggested that one way would be to bring it up at parent-teacher conferences in the fall. Previously, the district sent home a form with students, but some parents said this year that they never received the paperwork. They were later shocked to find out their children were taking the course.
A newly-formed parent group, Knappa Parents Organization, had asked for a review of the curriculum. They were concerned about how the opt-out option was communicated to parents and the content of the course.
In a statement to The Astorian, and repeated on their Facebook page, they argued that issues related to gender identity, sexual preference and sexual orientation are outside the bounds of a public school curriculum and “are better left to families to handle.”
The group can appeal the curriculum committee’s decision to the school board.