The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) is collecting community feedback on planned updates to its Human Growth and Development curriculum ahead of an April 12 vote on the changes.
The current sex education curriculum dates from 1992 and was last updated in 2003. All copies of the movie "The Miracle of Life," which accompanies the lessons for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, are on VHS, said Milissa Sackos, SUSD's executive director of student and community services.
A committee of community-based health professionals has advised the district on making the abstinence-based curriculum more current. If the committee's plan is adopted, the number of lessons will be reduced from 10 to three. And sixth-graders will now view "A Time to Talk," while seventh- and eighth-graders will view "Keeping It Real." Information on dating violence and "sexting" -- explicit text messages that can sometimes include revealing photographs youths take of themselves -- will be included. Older students also will have in-depth discussions about STDs, condoms, teen pregnancy and responsibility.
A major change is that students will not participate in the lessons unless their parents sign a permission form. Human Growth and Development currently operates as an opt-out curriculum. The shift results from the "Parents' Bill of Rights" that the Legislature passed last year.
However, board member Eric Meyer said health information is too important to be optional. "From a public health standpoint, this is the only place our kids get information" on STDs, said Meyer. "And if they opt out, they won't get it anywhere."