Austin ISD is looking for your input as it looks at revising its lesson plans for third grade through junior high for what is now called "Human Sexuality and Responsibility."
Third grade may sound kind of young to be learning about human sexuality, but Austin ISD says it may be time to start talking about the role sexual identity plays in society. Kathy Ryan, director of academics for the school district gives as an example, "Someone might say if you like football, ’Oh you're a boy. You should be a football player when you grow up,’ and if you're a girl, ‘Oh you should be a cheerleader.’ So the lower grade lessons start with dispelling that myth."
Austin ISD believes its parents want a well-rounded education beyond the minimum standards the state requires. Ryan says, “The state does require we teach abstinence first, right? Abstinence is the best choice that we want our students to make for many reasons."
But not everyone agrees on how far to go with sex ed. Corey Tabor is program director for Austin LifeGuard, which provides sex education classes to other area school districts starting with the sixth grade. He says, “Each school district makes their own individual decision on which curriculum they want to use as long as they fit in with what the state board of education requires."
And for Austin LifeGuard the focus is old school: preventing unwanted pregnancies. Tabor explains, “In 1989 they started developing a curriculum to be preventative in reducing the number of teen pregnancies we were seeing in the community."
Over the next few days Austin ISD will hold a series of public meetings laying out what human sexuality lessons they plan to offer beginning next school year. But they remind parents the key word is 'offer.' Parents will be able to opt their child out of any of the individual lessons or all of them.