SEX ED ALERT: What Are Kids Learning?
Do Parents Have A Choice?
Highline Sex Ed Meeting for Parents – Spring 2023
By Katie Kresly
Sex Ed classes are on the horizon at Highline Schools, so on March 15th, approximately 35 Highline parents attended a Sexual Education Curriculum Meeting at Puget Sound Skills Center. The meeting focused on the FLASH curriculum for grades 4-12 and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for K-3. It included the state requirements, school policy and how parents could waive lessons, or opt out. A 30-Day Notice (to you) from the district is REQUIRED before lessons begin.
Parents were assured that the curriculum materials were “age appropriate and medically accurate”. However, attendees, many from “historically marginalized”, ethnically-diverse and non-English speaking communities, still expressed concern that lesson content may not be aligned with their personal, family or religious beliefs. They inquired why the curricula introduced gender identity, sexual orientation and sexually inappropriate books, especially to the youngest children.
For example, the OSPI representative, Laurie Dils, explained that in K-3 “absolutely no sexual content is taught, nothing about romantic relationships.” However, a mother quickly responded that her daughter’s teacher had read the book And Tango Makes Three to her first grade class. The daughter was confused, so she asked her mom how two male penguins “in love” could have a baby. How is this not “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”?
Ms. Dils quickly clarified. There is NO Requirement by the state, but districts have “flexibility”. Teachers may use other materials that are NOT subject to the 30 day notification because they are NOT part of the sex ed curriculum. There was some confusion about whether the book was district approved, so the district is looking into it for the parent.
Next, a father was audibly concerned that the district was teaching his boy he could be a different gender. “Do you teach the children to be ‘whoever you want to be?’” Shawna Moore answered, “we teach children to show up as their unapologetic self, everyday… and how they choose to identify… that’s who they feel that they are.” She suggested that he could opt the student out of that lesson, but failed to share that per Policy/Procedure 3211, teachers and staff could not inform him if his son DID identify as a different gender.
A mother queried, why does the state get to decide what is “age appropriate” for my child, when there is no medically accurate data to support gender identity or orientation? Ms. Dils from OSPI confirmed, there is no specific OSPI requirement in Sexual Health to discuss sexual orientation or gender expression. HOWEVER, it is required to be INCLUSIVE, so lessons discuss gay, straight, non-binary, trans-identifying people. The requirement is not meant to lead students down a path. Instead, she explains, students can feel like “oh, that describes me, and now I feel like I’ve been respected and seen as a human being.”
A member of the sex ed curriculum committee, also a mom, suggested that parents see firsthand what is going into the new curriculum by getting on the review committee and giving feedback. She recommends parents look at the State Learning Outcomes.
Finally, another concerned mother asked where she could see the curricula online. It was no longer on the website. She was referred to the OSPI and Highline websites**, but the only lessons available for free viewing are for FLASH – Grades 4/5 and for Special Education students. (Physical binders of the curricula were passed around at the meeting, but only in English.)
The district did their best to answer several more uncomfortable, rapid-fire questions:
- How can the students feel comfortable asking embarrassing, sex-related questions if they are no longer separated by sex?
- How do we avoid sex education altogether?
- How do parents find out what books are being read to their children?
- A parent who asked that her young child NOT be included in ANY sexual discussions felt judged by the teacher. Why?
The Conclusion? If you wish to control what your child sees about sex, then Opt Out Now. Otherwise, you are giving your consent.
If you have more questions or concerns, Please Contact:
Laura Schneider Laura.Schneider@highlineschools.org 206-631-3233
Derek Severson email@example.com 206-631-3262
Shawna Moore Shawna.Moore@highlineschools.org 206-631-7379
Laurie Dils OSPI CSE Implementation 360-725-6364