Salt Lake City, Utah- (News4Utah) – Along with reading, writing and arithmetic some Utah students are learning about the birds and the bees at school.
Education officials say the foundation should be laid at home.
“We think that those lessons should definitely come from the home, and school is the supplement,” said Jodi Kaufman, Health Education Specialist with the Utah State Board of Education.
Those supplemental lessons begin in with maturation in elementary school, and progress to sex education in 8th and 10th grade for most students.
State law outlines what can be taught in class. All curriculum is based on abstinence and includes things like; reproductive anatomy, disease prevention and the Newborn Safe Haven law as an option for unintended pregnancy.
But, what ends up in your child’s school is up to a local committee made up of school staff and parents from your district or charter school.
“They will discuss every guest speaker, every source of media, whether that’s a video, an internet link, any kind of outside resources. They also go over text books and exact curriculum,” Kaufman said.
Districts and charter schools can choose to be more restrictive than the state standard, but not more comprehensive.
This year, state Representative Justin Fawson sponsored a bill adding a few more elements to the state standard.
One, is the harmful effects of pornography. How to recognize what it is, steps to avoid it and how to report it.
“There are a lot of parents who don’t want sex ed in the schools at all. And, I’m sure there are parents who don’t want harmful effects of pornography in schools too, but the reality is most kids are experiencing it at school and at a young age,” said Fawson, (R) North Ogden.
It also includes refusal skills. Teaching kids it’s okay to say no if they are uncomfortable.
“On the flip side, we want kids to understand that no means no, and that if somebody says no, that means stop,” said Fawson.
And, it requires districts and charter schools to review statistics for their area, so they can tailor curriculum to specific local needs.
In the end, your child’s sex education at school all depends on you. Parents must sign an opt-in form before anything is put in front of their children.
“The form gives parents choices. They can choose exactly which sections they want their child to be part of. They can opt their child completely out of the entire unit of sex education. They can also ask for the materials to view ahead of time,” said Kaufman.
Fawson’s bill originally called for online curriculum, but that idea didn’t have the support it needed and was amended out.
He hopes that will be initiated down the road.