January 13, 2011
Mesa Public Schools' annual meeting detailing how sex education is taught in the district drew more than 100 parents to Kino Junior High School on Jan. 4.
Educators explained the sex education program, which lasts four days in seventh- and ninth-grade science classes. Students are divided by gender, with instructors Kay Russell and Cindy Maguire teaching the girls and Larry Clouse teaching the boys.
"[Seventh-grade] girls are very nervous, but I let them know they will never be called on to answer questions. We have a wide spectrum in our classes. Some girls are playing with dolls and some girls are playing with boys," said Russell, whose grandson will be one of the students taking the class this year.
The curriculum stresses abstinence before marriage as the only way to prevent STDs and pregnancy. Instructors define terms such as birth control, abortion, masturbation, and homosexuality, but tell students to ask their parents for more information. According to the educators, three topics are never addressed in class: sex positions, "alternative lifestyles," and condom use and/or distribution.
Parents can attend any of the presentations, the educators noted. However, seventh-grade girls often become uncomfortable if there are male adults in the classroom, so Russell and Maguire encourage fathers to attend the boys' classes. "It's very hard for seventh-grade girls to have a man in the room," said Russell.
The seventh-grade class is an opt-in program, meaning parental permission is required to attend. The ninth-grade instruction is an opt-out program, so parents must notify the school if they do not want their child to participate.
For more information, visit www.mpsaz.org/ssrc/health.