School district scraps sex-ed curriculum following outcry from parents

A school district in Nevada has scrapped plans to implement a controversial sex education program following outcry from parents. | Pixabay/werner22brigitte

A school district in Reno, Nevada had decided to cancel a controversial sex education curriculum following outcry from parents and other members of the community.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that the Washoe County School District (WCSD) had to abandon the proposed curriculum which was intended to replace an abstinence-only program in the schools after it was met with heavy resistance from community members.

The proposed curriculum, called Sexual Health and Responsibility Education (SHARE), was put together by Advocates for Youth, which was formerly known as the Center for Population Options.

The program, which covers a wide array of topics ranging from respect to safe sex practices, has been widely criticized for straying from the currently taught-abstinence only sex education approach and interjecting "progressive ideals" surrounding a person's sexuality.

"Obviously the proposed curriculum was not overwhelmingly popular. So we're going to re-evaluate that idea," said Kindra Fox, director of curriculum, instruction and library services.

Some community members felt that major sticking points in the program focused on topics that were broached too early in a child's life or should be left to a parent's discretion. Drafts of the proposed curriculum reportedly referenced vaginal, anal and oral sex as early as the sixth grade.

The controversial program has been defended by some who attended the public forums, arguing that the district needed to do everything it could to fully inform children about sexual and reproductive health.

Fox said that the community had not expected such a strong reaction — both for and against the proposed curriculum — from the community. Public forums that were held late last spring reportedly turned into heated debates.

"We hoped for lots of input and we hoped for community involvement, but we didn't anticipate the anger that we saw," Fox said.

The SHARE committee, which was tasked with developing the district's sex curriculum, is now facing a leadership change. There are currently no scheduled SHARE committee meetings on the district's calendar, and the group will not meet until it fills the position for a religious representative.

The position was formerly filled by Neil Anderson, former minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada, who left the district this summer for another church position in Walnut Creek, California.

WCSD's current abstinence-only program will remain unchanged for the 2017–2018 school year. The proposed curriculum would have allowed parents to opt-in or out of the lessons and would have aligned with all the National Sexuality Education Standards according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.