Austin ISD is currently evaluating a comprehensive sexual health education curriculum for 3rd-8th grade students. Unfortunately there are groups that are actively trying to spread misinformation to raise concerns with parents who are simply trying to get informed.
We’ve been actively involved in this ongoing discussions for over a year and are excited that finally all parents and community members are having an opportunity to weigh in with their opinions and questions about the scope and sequence of the topics that will be covered in the new curriculum.
Here is some general information about the whys and hows of the process as well as some reasons that we feel comprehensive, inclusive human sexuality and responsibility lessons are so important, even in elementary school.
Comprehensive sex education keeps kids safe and healthy. Children and teens make healthier choices and have healthier relationships when they receive fact-based sex education at school. In fact, teens who receive comprehensive sexual health education are more likely to wait longer to become sexually active and make safer lifelong sexual decisions. With honest and factual information, students of all ages have the tools they need to take charge of their health and focus on their future goals.
Comprehensive sex education is recommended by experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, Institute of Medicine, and Society for Adolescent Medicine all support comprehensive sex education for all children beginning in elementary school.
Sex Ed reduces teen pregnancies. Texas ranks #5 in the nation for teenage pregnancies and #1 for repeat teenage pregnancies. Education is needed to prevent this unintended pregnancies.
Sex Ed Decreases the demand for abortions. A decrease in unintended pregnancies would decrease the demand for abortions. Opponents often assert that sex-ed providers are ‘pro-abortion.’ We believe that any organization that supports comprehensive sex ed clearly has the goal of lowering the number of abortions.
Sex ed reduces sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS. Texas is the #4 state for AIDS/HIV cases & #16 for STDs/STIs. Cases are on the rise in Austin and if left undiagnosed, STDs can lead to infertility, brain damage or potentially even death. Proper education about the risks of STIs can increase prevention and also result in students delaying sexual activity.
Sex ed helps protect kids from sexual abuse & helps them to report it if abuse does occur. 20% of girls and 8% of boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, the majority between ages 3-8. Many don’t report abuse because they don’t even know the correct names for body parts to explain what happened.
Teaching consent fosters empathy, compassion, and respect for others. Learning how & when to say “No” improves confidence & safety. This can reduce sexual coercion, harassment, and even assault.
Lessons in diversity help kids love themselves and each other. Setting a tone that condemns acts of bias and hatred will reduce bullying, improve mental health, and improve school attendance/performance for marginalized kids.
Here are a few FAQs we hear about the curriculum revision. We’ll try to answer them the best we can here, but as we are not affiliated with Austin ISD, your best bet for information is to go directly to the contacts outlined on the human sexuality and responsibility survey, Kathy Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Michele Rusnak at email@example.com.
Why is AISD reevaluating the curriculum?
Austin Independent School District’s Healthy Sexuality and Relationships program has not been re-evaluated in over 10 years, (curricula are typically reviewed and updated every 3-6 years).
An update is overdue and necessary to bring the curriculum up to national standards and to meet the goals outlined in AISD’s 5 Year Strategic Plan. You can see the full plan here.
What are the key goals outlined in AISD’s 5 Year Strategic Plan?
- Whole Child, Every Child
- Physical, social, and emotional health, and safety
- Equity, diversity, and inclusion
- High expectations for all students, employees, parents/guardians, and community members
- Creativity, collaboration, and innovation
- Community schools
- Life-long learning
Where are the human sexuality and responsibility lessons?
Lessons will be completed after AISD determines the “scope and sequence” of topics to be covered. The scope and sequence will be informed by feedback from surveys and community input sessions.
Lessons will be available to view in each school’s library at the beginning of the 2019/2020 school year.
What if I don’t like a lesson?
You have the option to opt your child out of any, or all, lessons. This way the majority of students can benefit from the material even if some parents are not interested in it.
I am on board with comprehensive sex-ed! How can I show my support?
- Attend monthly School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) meetings, especially December 5th, when the results of the surveys will be shared.
- Attend monthly AISD Board of Trustee meetings
- Attend your school’s CAC meetings.
- Write letters to the Board of Trustees and district leadership.
- Complete the AISD Human Sexuality & Responsibility survey.
- Attend one of the three AISD public input sessions held November 8, 13 & 15th.
- Join The Informed Parents of Austin Facebook Group
There’s another group this is spreading confusing information about state and local laws? Where can I see them for myself?
We believe that groups like Concerned Parents of Texas and Mass Resistance Texas fight against curricula which are inclusive and respectful of LGBTQ students.
Please evaluate all claims with a careful eye. When in doubt, direct questions directly to Austin ISD to get accurate information (and encourage friends to do the same.)
National sex education guidelines: NSES guidelines
Thank you for helping us support comprehensive sex and health education for ALL students.