On a vote of 6 to 1, the Board approved revised Health Education lessons on human sexuality for students in Grades 8 and 10. The approval of the curriculum for full implementation in the 2007-2008 school year followed a field test in six middle and high schools in March and feedback from field-test teachers, parents, and students. Board member Steve Abrams voted against full implementation of the curriculum.
"This curriculum provides important information that our students need to know," said Nancy Navarro, president of the Board of Education. "All people deserve to be respected regardless of their sexual orientation, and that's what these lessons teach our children."
The eighth and tenth grade lessons comprise two 45-minute sessions in each grade on respecting differences in human sexuality. The purpose of the curriculum is to promote tolerance, empathy, and respect for all people regardless of sexual orientation. The curriculum also defines terms related to sexual orientation.
In addition, the tenth grade curriculum includes one 45-minute lesson and one video detailing the correct usage of a condom. The purpose of the condom demonstration lesson is to show proper application of a condom and to instill the importance of using a condom correctly and consistently to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. The condom demonstration lesson emphasizes that abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method of preventing sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
The Board approved the lessons for field testing in January after an extensive and thorough preparation process and a detailed review by the Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development. The six schools participating in the field test were Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Sherwood High School, Watkins Mill High School, Argyle Middle School, Julius West Middle School, and Westland Middle School.
The lessons will now become part of the health education curriculum in all 38 middle schools and 25 high schools beginning in the fall of 2007.