A sex education program will return to Ralston Middle School after it was removed from the curriculum last spring because of concerns from members of the community.
On Thursday night, the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District School Board of Trustees approved of the program as part of the consent calendar. A committee of parents and staff reviewed options for sex health education programming and recommended continuing with the district’s program.
“There was a careful process last spring to make the item ready for quick approval on the consent calendar,” said Superintendent Michael Milliken. “Given the concern, we decided to go slowly with a decision [by forming the committee before making a decision].”
Teen Talk, a two-week program managed by Redwood City-based nonprofit Teen Talk Sexuality Education, was set to be offered to seventh grade students later in March — provided parents signed the permission slip. Parents raised questions about the nature of the program, its appropriateness and communication from the school. The district postponed sexual education for last school year’s seventh grade students to have a community conversation about the right way to tackle the subject.
Seventh and eighth graders will participate in the program this year, since last year’s seventh grade class did not receive sex education training. Last year would have marked the second year of the program. Parents of last year’s seventh graders were also concerned by the lack of communication and about the possible graphic nature of how the topics are presented.
The program will provide 10 classroom lessons to eighth grade science classes this fall and 10 classroom lessons to seventh grade science classrooms in June 2014.
The district plans on sending a letter out to parents on Sept. 16 inviting them to come and look at the program’s curriculum. There will also be a parent night 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Sept. 30, most likely at Ralston Middle School, to allow parents to discuss the program. Parents can also opt their children out of Teen Talk.
The district will also prepare reports, survey results and other documents at the end of the school year.