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Potential Changes To Sex Ed Curriculum Stir Controversy In Tucson

Published: Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 3:54pm
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Achieve 60 AZ is a statewide initiative to get 60 percent of working age Arizonans to hold certificates or college degrees by 2030.

The controversial issue of sex education in Arizona schools is in the news again this week, as students and former students in Tuscon call on the Tucson Unified School District to change what they see as their schools’ limited program.

They want to see more than abstinence-only education, and that’s stirring up some controversy this week in front of the board.

For months, board President Adelita Grijalva said students have been coming to their meetings voicing concerns about the sex education they received in school.

“We had students coming to the meetings basically saying that the information we’re getting in schools is either not happening or not comprehensive enough to really give us any real information,” Grijalva said.

This week, the TUSD Governing Board voted unanimously this week to go forward with changes to their schools’ sex education curriculum but they’re holding off on deciding what those changes will be.

“What’s going to happen next is I’ve requested from the superintendent to really let us go through what the family life curriculum has,” Grijalva said. “What is it covering?”

She said, the first step is to find out what the current curriculum looks like and then they will ask for input from the public about how they would like to see sex education taught in Tucson Unified schools.

Students Grijalva talked to told her that they went through a Family Life program in fourth and fifth grades, and then, when they got to high school, she said they had people come in from outside to teach abstinence only information.

These students were asking for comprehensive sex education, instead of an abstinence-only approach.

It’s a stance Grijalva said she agrees with.

“They’re sitting there saying, ‘All I want is for students to have the information that I have, that I didn’t have before, that I had to look up,’” she said. “I would rather have our students be able to talk to a real person as opposed to looking it up on Google.”

But, when the community thought they were adopting a comprehensive sex education curriculum at this week’s meeting several people came to voice their concerns, she said.

The Board also tabled a resolution promoting a sex education curriculum that’s inclusive of the LGBT community. The Phoenix Union High School District adopted a similar resolution last year, addressing a state law that prohibits school instruction promoting a homosexual lifestyle. Grijalva said they won’t adopt any resolutions related to this until they have a curriculum they’re going to adopt.

The TUSD board will ask for input from the community over the next several months about the sex education program. Grijalva said there likely won’t be any changes made, though, before the new school year starts in the fall.

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