FONT & AUDIO
PPS passes new K-12 sex education policy and curriculum
Following a unanimous vote by the Portland Public Schools board Tuesday, July 17, the district will begin implementing a sex education curriculum from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Board Vice Chair Julie Esparza Brown presented the policy and curriculum to the board from the Teaching and Learning committee, which she chairs.
The policy effort began with a 2015 Oregon Department of Education rule that requires each district to develop "a comprehensive plan of instruction focusing on human sexuality education" which is "complete, balanced, and medically accurate."
The curriculum includes discussions of nontraditional gender expressions and sexual orientations, adjusted to the age level.
At the kindergarten to second-grade level, the sexuality education begins with basic building blocks, such as "my space-your space," "different kinds of families," and "feeling safe." As the themes build into high school, the curriculum expands to include disease prevention, contraception and dating violence.
A major driver in the curriculum is child abuse prevention and Title IX compliance, which calls for schools to be free from sexual harassment and abuse — including from other students.
Brown said that the curriculum has been developed in chunks so that parents can choose to opt out of certain topics without their children losing the rest of the curriculum.
"I think one of the most exciting parts of this is the options for parents to opt out of the components to the modules," Brown said. "I think that's a very important piece of work within this policy."
Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said in a previous interview with the Tribune that parents would get previews of the material and can decide whether they would prefer to opt out and teach it in a different way.
"I'm not going to make that decision for our parents," Guerrero said.
The policy includes a student-written student bill of rights, which demands teachers who are informed and open and a right to feel their views are safe and respected.
The policy and curriculum was developed with grant money from ODE and representatives from across PPS and the broader community, including Planned Parenthood, Latino Network, Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force and the Oregon Health Authority.
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