Local and Community News
Wyoming: School Board Wrestling With Middle School Sex Ed
June 16, 2003
Sweetwater County, Wyo., School District No. 2 board has asked Superintendent Jimmy Phelps to decide how sex education will be taught at the middle school level. Phelps eliminated safer sex programs for seventh- and eighth-graders toward the end of the school year, opting for abstinence-only sex education instead. "The original standards we gave were compromises," said Board Vice President Nancy Britton. "The standards were open to interpretation," she said.Adapted from:
Some parents had complained about optional assignments, such as comparison shopping for condoms, though these required parental permission and not doing them would not affect a student's grade.
Joan Barker, Green River High School's health teacher, said she is concerned that Phelp's memo eliminating the safer sex program has resulted in a curriculum change. "If the memo stands, it prevents parents from a choice," she said. Barker, who also teaches middle school, said she never heard complaints at parent-teacher conferences. But the situation has been different for the school board and administration.
Board member Mike Holden said his family does not need the school to teach his children about sex, but understands that some parents prefer the help. He said parents who contacted him were equally divided in their support for abstinence-only and abstinence-based programs. Britton said about 80 percent of parents to whom she has spoken want abstinence-only sex education to be taught. "Something we are doing continues to attract the attention of the parents and not just the fringe group," Britton said.
Britton said an abstinence-based program provides alternatives to abstinence but focuses on their downsides. She said such a curriculum is acceptable to her. "You talk about the fact that [condoms] fail.... You really, really talk about the negatives and how to achieve abstinence," she said.