If a bill concerning human sexuality education successfully passes the Senate, Moffat County School District might have to change some aspects of its sex education curriculum.
House Bill 13-1081 calls for a comprehensive approach to teaching students about sex education, including information about abstinence and contraception.
Moffat County Student Services Director Renae Dove said the district uses an abstinence-based philosophy when it comes to sex education.
If the bill passes, it would provide a comprehensive human sexuality education program that is evidence-based, culturally sensitive, medically accurate, age-appropriate and reflective of positive youth development approaches, according to the draft bill. The bill’s passage also would create a grant program to distribute funds to districts to implement the program.
The new bill would require schools that receive funding to implement an opt-out policy for parents if they don’t want their children participating in sex education classes, rather than the opt-in approach that many districts employ. Moffat County does not have a policy regarding opting in or out of sex education classes, but a proposed policy will go before the Board of Education for a first reading Thursday.
Dove said parents are able to review the health curriculum and health videos shown and then decide whether to have their children participate.
An amendment by the Senate to a draft of the bill includes stressing the importance of abstinence as the only 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. However, the bill also says comprehensive human sexuality education means providing students with information about all methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs, including information about the correct use of contraception.
Dove said the current Moffat County curriculum does not teach students about birth control.
The school district first introduces sexual health education to fifth-grade students, who learn about health care and hygiene practices; puberty changes in the body, including thoughts and emotions; and the anatomy, physiology and process of the reproductive system.
Moffat students are introduced to sexual activity and what constitutes a healthy relationship at the middle-school level. Sixth-graders learn about behaviors that place them at risk for STDs and unplanned pregnancies. Seventh-graders learn about common STDs, difficult relationships and sexual and reproductive health decisions. Eighth-graders learn about the transmission, symptoms and treatment of STDs; developing personal standards for dating; refusing peer pressure to participate in unwanted verbal, physical and sexual activity; where to find support if choosing to remain abstinent; and the benefits, effectiveness and side effects of birth control options, including abstinence, condoms and other contraceptives.
Moffat County High School health education covers relationship and sexual health decisions, including testing to avoid and reduce the risk of STDs and pregnancy. Students also learn about unhealthy situations and relationships so they can better identify teen dating violence.
“If the bill passes, then we will get guidance from our partners at the state level as far as school board policies or if changes will be made to the standards,” Dove said.
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org