What is the role of public schools?
As reported by FOX 5 Atlanta, A controversial sixth-grade homework assignment on sexuality has some parents reevaluating the role of public schools.
A Lithonia MS student came home with an assignment on sexuality. It has ten questions, asking sixth graders to identify various sexual preferences like gay, lesbian and transgender.
“We’re talking about a sixth grader who still watches Nickelodeon. I’m not ready to explain what these words are nor what they mean,” said the parent.
Family Life and Sexual Behavior (FLASH) Standards
FLASH is a curriculum program developed out of King County, Seattle to support the Family Life and Sexual Behavior (FLASH) standards. The curriculum states, “Sexuality education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values about identity, relationships, and intimacy. It encompasses sexual development, reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy, body image, and gender roles.”
Here is a sample of what is taught:
- Facts About STDs (Middle School)
- Reproductive System (Gr. 4)
- Preventing STDs (Gr. 6-8) – In this lesson, students review STD transmission by doing a True/False activity. Working in pairs or triads, they use a persuasion map to develop convincing argument about preventing STDs. Then pairs/triads create STD prevention Public Service Announcements for social media and share them with the class.
- Abstinence (Gr. 9–12) – In this lesson, students define abstinence and learn the steps to refusing effectively. Then, in small groups, they practice using refusal skills and observe their peers modeling effective refusal skills.
In response to the concern about Lithonia Middle School’s application of the FLASH standards, DeKalb Schools issued the following statement:
Parents are fully informed of the use of this curriculum, and are given due notice to opt-out of this instruction. DCSD respects the diverse beliefs of its families, and will not include students in this instruction if notified clearly by the family.
Teaching about sexual orientation not only provides a necessary protection for students of different groups, but it can also better understanding, respect and nondiscrimination among all students. DCSD is committed to this education through its Board policies and belief that knowledge helps reduce bullying occurrences and assists students in making informed decisions.”
DeKalb Schools Curriculum Road Show
DeKalb Schools invites parents to learn more about what their children learn at school. You can learn more by attending one of the upcoming Curriculum Roadshow Events. Each event will begin at 6:30 p.m.
- Tue, October 10, 2017 – Tucker High School
- Wednesday, October 11, 2017 – Columbia High School
- Tuesday, October 17, 2017 – Dunwoody High School
- Tuesday, October 24, 2017 – Clarkston High School
DeKalb Schools Policy – IDBA – Sex Education
A. Sex Education Program
The sex education program in the DeKalb County School District encompasses physiological, biological, and psychological education. From the biological and physiological prospective, the program deals simply with the anatomy of the reproductive systems. From the psychological prospective, students will acquire factual knowledge, skills and attitudes that will lead to behavior that contributes to the well-being of the individual, the family and society.
Parents and legal guardians may exercise the option to exclude their child from sex education and AIDS prevention instructional programs. Upon request, the curricular and instructional resources and materials will be provided to the parent or legal guardian for review. Any parent or legal guardian of a child scheduled to receive sex education instruction has the right to elect in writing to opt their child out of this course of study.
GA DOE Rule 160-4-2-.12 COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION
Each local board of education shall develop procedures to allow parents and legal
guardians to exercise the option of excluding their child from sex education and AIDS
prevention instructional programs.
1. Sex education and AIDS education shall be a part of a comprehensive health
2. Prior to the parent or legal guardian making a choice to allow his or her child or
ward to take the specified unit of instruction, he or she shall be told what instruction is to
be provided and have the opportunity to review all instructional materials to be
used, print and nonprint. Any parent or legal guardian of a child to whom a course of study in sex education is to be taught shall have the right to elect, in writing, that such
child not receive such course of study.
Thank you very much for posting this Stan. I find your posts very informative and it helps me not only to understand how DeKalb County functions but also to use these topics in conversations with my children.
I am sure these kids already know these ‘terms’. Plus – how embarrassing to have to have a 6th grade group project/discussion about preventing STDs! And why teach about STDs and then years later, teach abstinence? Has ANY of this effected the rate of teen pregnancy? !! Set up a clinic and teach the REAL info — sexuality – reproduction – and responsibility. I used to teach reproduction health at a Planned Parenthood – to young women who already had a baby. Trust me – half of them had no idea of exactly how that happened.
There are parents who will not discuss it with their kids. In this day and age of information overload, I think it is appropriate or there should be an opt out.
I think what they teach in 5th grade at fernbank is way too much info at that age. They are teaching to the least common denominator and exposing our kids to things that don’t need to know at 10 and 11.
And this is not appropriate either. Is this in heath? If so how do we get a copy of the curriculum? Dekalb says we can opt out but I’ll believe that when I see it come home.
A consent form/opt-out form did come home from Chamblee Middle for my seventh grader (we consented), but not yet from Kingsley Elem for my fourth grader. I’m concerned that the “reproduction” segment Stan lists above as 4th grade is a bit TMI for my daughter. That FLASH curriculum on reproduction was exactly what my 7th grader just learned.
The pictures attached to the Fox 5 article Stan linked to show that the Lithonia MS class was being quizzed on the definitions of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans. About those definitions, the parent asked “Why are they teaching that in school? What does that have to do with life?”
This parent is not actually concerned that her daughter was too young to learn these definitions — Nope! Mom is ticked off because she thinks DCSD taught her daughter that GLBT people exist, something Mom wanted her daughter to go thru life not knowing.
Mom’s South Dekalb bigotry is why we have things like Sheriff Jeff Mann resorting to finding his partner(s) in Piedmont Park and why Eddie Long (allegedly) lived his life on the down low.
Stan, I am very concerned about the quote that Fox5 has from an unnamed DCSD spokesperson: “DCSD has been made aware of this alleged event, and is working to verify its authenticity. We will investigate this event and take action, as appropriate, once that investigation is completed.” How can a health teacher truthfully teach about preventing STDs and Abstinence without first defining Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual? It seems to me that kids need to learn that they can catch STDs from all sexual acts, not just heterosexual acts. Similarly, it is not abstinence if one only abstains from heterosexual acts.
Parents need to be aware of the influences their children face and if sex education is left to peers or access to smart devices… mis-information abounds.
School should be an additional layer of information that parents can opt in to help compliment learning.
And how young is too young? Opinions will differ. I agree with the timeline cited.
Thanks for bringing this up, Stan. It’s important for parents to plan in advance how and when they want to introduce their children to the diversity in our society.
And I do think we need sex ed in our schools… a lot of parents don’t feel comfortable speaking to their kids, but the kids are speaking to one another and often sharing media content. It’s important to have a mature, responsible, informed adult giving factual information. If not a parent or guardian, then a teacher…
I think the problem with teen pregnancy is not necessarily that we are not teaching enough sexual education. Of course, there are parents that do not want their child exposed to certain sexualities because they do not want their child to be encouraged to certain sexualties. And some parents do not want there child to exposed to or formally educated on sex until a certain age so that the child will not be encouraged to have sex. But in the end, whatever the child is exposed to it should be done in a mature manner.
The problem is our culture at large. Children are exposed to sex and sexuality from internet, TV, movies, and music. And this is before they speak to their peers or parents and teachers. We as adults are allowing this exposure to occur. Sex Education can help a little, but to expect any form of education to change the thoughts of our children in fallacious. The cultural environment must change if we expect children to be more abstinent and more sexually mature.
My child and his friend were called “gay” as an insult in 4th grade at Fernbank Elementary. I see no problem with using factual terms and normalizing them. I do think a worksheet might not be the best way to learn this lesson.
Given that sexual orientation is something people are born with, I don’t think it’s any big deal. These kids are in 6th grade. Pretty sure they know about gay people by then. My kid has known that some people are attracted to members of their own sex since he was about 3 or 4. (Explained in an age-appropriate way so he could understand some of the same sex couples we know.)
I’m more disturbed that the high school curriculum is abstinence-based. Research shows that doesn’t work and states that focus on abstinence have higher rates of teen pregnancies.