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Seligman: Sex ed topic 'tip of a big iceberg'

Citizens question school board about sex ed curriculum

The Hillsboro School District's curriculum on human sexuality education has come into question by several citizens as well as one school board member as officials begin to update policy language dealing with that subject.

Several community members spoke at a school board meeting Tuesday evening, asking the board to reconsider the district's use of "My Future-My Choice," an Oregon Department of Human Services curriculum.

"My Future-My Choice," according to the DHS website, is a comprehensive sexuality education program that "aims to provide middle school students with tools to resist social and peer pressure to become sexually involved before they are ready."

Part of the curriculum includes using high school students — who are trained alongside teachers — to lead several of the lessons.

In a personal blog post, school board member Erik Seligman explained his concerns with high school students leading lessons and discussions. "We have age of consent laws regarding sex, and a minimum age for the sale of alcohol. Since we have agreed as a society to not trust kids of high school age to properly judge these topics ... isn't it somewhat inconsistent to trust them to counsel younger kids on these matters?" he wrote.

Travis Reiman, the district's Director of Teaching and Learning, has asked the Citizen's Curriculum Advisory Committee to help review the law, policies, standards and perceptions surrounding the district's human sexuality education program. "I'm asking them (CCAC) to learn along with me," he said.

Reiman told board members the district has used "My Future-My Choice" — formerly called STARS — for 10 years and could not point to any previous complaints from parents about the curriculum.

But Beaverton resident Lori Porter of the group Parents' Rights in Education urged the school board to carefully consider changes to the policy. "The verbage in the policy needs to be defined and justified," she said. "Have a plan of instruction for teachers. What will be discussed in the classroom and what will not?"

"The syllabus doesn't say much," said Rachael Kitchens, a Hillsboro parent of three children. "At middle school, it was a bit too much for my family. One or two kids opting out makes them stand out. Is that really a reasonable option?"

All parents have the opportunity to review curriculum, are notified before sex education begins and have the right to opt their children out of the curriculum.

"If I'm counting right," Seligman told his fellow board members at the end of the meeting, "there have more comments on this ... than any other topic since I've been on the board.

"This represents the tip of a very big iceberg."

The district's policy was last updated in 2008 and must now be revised to bring it into complaince with new Oregon Administrative Rules legal requirements.

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