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Parents would have to sign off on future Weld RE-8 health and family life/sex education classes for their kids if the district ever offers them, the Board of Education decided Sept. 22.
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Parents will have to sign off on future Weld Re-8 School District health and family life/sex education classes for their kids if the district ever offers them, the board of education decided Sept. 22.
The district stopped offering health and sex education classes in 2018.
Board member Cody Leblanc said he prefers the district stay away from offering those kinds of classes at all, but was pleased to get parent approval included in the policy.
The motion to approve the revised policy passed 4-3. The motion to approve the updated exemption procedure to align with the revised policy also passed 4-3.
The district does not offer health or sex education for any grade. Health and sex education classes have not been taught in the district since 2018, Superintendent Alan Kaylor told Colorado Community Media.
Although the policy does not currently apply to actual classes, it would apply if these classes were to start being taught again, he said.
From integral to 'an option'
The old policy let parents exempt their children from comprehensive health education courses with a written request and said that health education was an integral part of each student’s education.
The new policy requires a parent or guardian’s signature for a student to be allowed to participate in the class. Rather than calling the classes integral, the new policy states that a comprehensive health education program may be an option for each student's education.
State law allows students who are 18 or older to sign for themselves, Kaylor said.
According to LeBlanc, who created the policy revisions with Secretary Jaime Sierra, the new opt-in approach gives parents the right to decide what their children learn about sexual topics.
“It forces parental rights, and it forces the district to uphold parental rights, especially when talking a,bout extremely sensitive conversations like comprehensive sex education,” he said in an interview with CCM.
Comprehensive Sex Education
State legislators passed a law in May 2019 that doesn't requirehuma n sexuality instruction be taught in schools, but set strict standards and content requirements if it is taught. Some of these content requirements are:
The state law does also does not require those classes to include pregnancy outcome options. If pregnancy options are taught, it requires that “the instruction must cover all pregnancy outcome options, including but not limited to adoption, abortion, parenting and… ‘safe haven laws.’”
LeBlanc said several aspects of comprehensive sex education curricula are concerning to some community members, especially in some religious communities.
“I'm not even comfortable talking about a lot of what comprehensive sex education requires to be taught to students,” he said. “So I would love for our district to not teach sex education.”
LeBlanc said he's tried to repeal the sex education policy at Re-8 schools before and moved to repeal the district’s policy altogether at the Sept. 22 meeting. His motion failed in a 3-4 vote. Although it wasn’t repealed, he said amending the policy was a success.
“We finally were able to, with the amendments, get somebody to switch and vote with us to at least amend it,” he said.
Board Treasurer Michelle Bettger voted against LeBlanc’s motion to repeal the policy, then in favor of his motion to accept the amended policy. She was the only board member who voted differently on the two motions.
“I'm a proponent of teaching sex ed in the schools because I don't believe that it is being taught at home in some households,” she said. “I did not want to repeal the policy so that if the state standards change, it would just be an easy transition into us going back to teaching it.”
Bettger said she voted in favor of the amended policy because the board had discussed the issue several times and had reached no decision.
“If opting in was going to get movement and get it taken care of, it wasn't that big (of) a difference to me,” she said.
In addition, Bettger said letting families opt in is good because it gives parents the chance to be 100 percent sure what their child is going to be learning.
President Susan Browne, on the other hand, was not in support of the opt-in policy.
“Not all students bring home their Wednesday folders at the elementary level. Parent communications home at the middle school and the high-school level is really hard,” she said.
She added that some students won’t learn sexual education at all if it’s not taught in schools.
“Unfortunately, in this day and age, parents aren't always receptive to teaching sex education to their students,” she said. “It doesn't always come from the parents. It doesn't always come from their religious background. And there are some students that are just going to get that training from school.”
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