News

Palo Alto parents protest new sex ed curriculum

District says program ensures consistency, complies with new law

Palo Alto Unified middle school students learned about human reproduction, abstinence and healthy relationships this spring in a new sex-education program that now has some of their parents threatening legal action if the school district doesn't take steps to address what they say is age-inappropriate, graphic and even harmful content.

The Palo Alto school district asked Redwood City nonprofit Health Connected, which has for about six years trained the high schools' Living Skills teachers as well as district nurses in sexual health education, to teach its curriculum to seventh-graders this year.

The school district added the seventh-grade curriculum after a state law was updated with more comprehensive requirements around sex education for public schools and took effect last January. The California Healthy Youth Act requires districts to educate students about sexual health and HIV prevention at least once in middle school and once in high school. Previously, districts were only mandated to provide HIV-prevention education in middle and high school, though middle school science teachers in Palo Alto Unified said they have long taught their own sexual-health curriculum.

Using a single curriculum -- Health Connected's -- "ensure(s) consistency of information to all students" and compliance with the updated law, the district said in a statement. The district's single-year contract with Health Connected totals $55,600, which includes both elementary and middle school programs. (The high school sex ed is taught within the Living Skills class.)

While concerned parents said they support sex education, they argue that specific elements of Health Connected's middle school materials are encouraging rather than preventing risky behaviors, such as underage drinking and sex, and encroach on deeply held family values.

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They have also criticized the district's process for selecting the program as hasty and unrepresentative, with no parent involvement, and have asked for a more thorough vetting process akin to the one required for adoption of a full curriculum such as mathematics.

"This is about the family," Erica Cai, one of several Palo Alto Unified parents who started an online petition calling for the curriculum's removal, told the Weekly in an interview. "This makes a lot of people feel like their parental right to educate their kids has been infringed upon."

Parent outcry has been gaining steam in Palo Alto over the last two weeks in the wake of similar uproar in the Cupertino school district, where last month the school board ultimately reached a 2-2 stalemate on whether to adopt Health Connected’s middle school program, called Teen Talk.

After Palo Alto parents saw this, the issue "started brewing inside the Chinese community" and spread beyond it over spring break, said Fang Mei, the father of a seventh-grader at JLS Middle School.

Parents formed a group and started gathering information about the topic before launching the petition, which has since collected about 1,200 signatures. The parents leading the effort have told the district that they will "resort to immediate legal action" if the district continues to offer Teen Talk in the middle schools. (The 10-hour program has already been taught to seventh-graders at Terman and JLS and is still in process at Jordan Middle School.)

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The school district maintains Health Connected's curriculum is necessary, both for the district's legal compliance and for students' education and well-being and does not intend to stop teaching it this year.

Parents have been informed since before Teen Talk started that they have the option to opt out of some or all of the curriculum. Out of the close to 400 participating students at JLS, 17 opted out, according to the district. Of 239 Terman students, three did not participate. The number of opt-outs at Jordan is not yet available since the program has not been completed yet.

"I think it’s our responsibility to follow the law, to provide the education by trained professionals and to let parents opt out," said Superintendent Max McGee, who also said he respects families’ values.

Watch a discussion about the controversy

Curriculum seeks to be comprehensive

The California Healthy Youth Act states that sex education must be "integrated, comprehensive, accurate, and unbiased" as well as age appropriate, medically accurate and inclusive of all genders, races and sexual orientations. The law aims to provide students "with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect their sexual and reproductive health from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and from unintended pregnancy" as well as to "develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, marriage, and family."

The California Department of Education has purposefully not endorsed any one curriculum, according to Health Connected, to allow local school districts to select one that best fits their community.

The state agency, along with public and adolescent health experts, did conduct a review of 11 middle and high school sex-education programs across the state, including Health Connected, to determine their compliance with the new legal requirements.

The review found no "major" compliance issues with Health Connected's programs. The nonprofit said it has addressed all "minor modifications" identified through the review, which is posted on the Health Connected's website.

Teen Talk uses interactive activities, group discussions and homework assignments in 12 sessions over the course of two to three weeks. The first activity of the course asks students to walk to one side of the room, each labeled "agree" or "disagree" in response to statements like, "All young people should learn how to cook, clean, and do laundry, regardless of their gender" and "You should be in love with a person before you have sex with them." They discuss the statements as a class.

In Palo Alto middle schools, Teen Talk has been taught mostly in science classrooms. Trained sexual health educators employed by the nonprofit teach the curriculum, with students' regular teachers present in the classroom.

Open communication with parents about these topics is emphasized throughout the program, as required by law, including with a two-day homework assignment in which students are sent home to conduct a "parent interview" from a set of questions on sexual health-related topics.

Risky behaviors, like underage drinking or nonconsensual sex, are raised in a preventative light to help young people "put knowledge into practice in a safe and facilitated space before they encounter similar situations outside the classroom," Health Connected Executive Director Abi Karlin-Resnick wrote in an online FAQ posted Thursday in response to parents’ concerns in Palo Alto.

"It's a little bit counterintuitive for parents to understand that providing more information doesn't actually encourage the behavior," Karlin-Resnick said in an interview. "It actually prevents the behavior."

But petitioning parents disagree. The examples "encourage the feeling that sex is the norm at this age," Margaret Chai Money wrote on the online petition. "I understand some young people will experiment and believe information is important … but I don't think the scenario situations are necessary."

Karlin-Resnick noted that those specific scenarios, including one that describes a 17-year-old and 18-year-old having sex after drinking at a party, are part of an optional, additional activity that most Palo Alto Unified students didn't participate in.

An instructor guide notes that some subject matter in these scenarios (which draw from real teenagers' first sexual experiences) might be "too mature" for some students and advises educators to "choose the stories most appropriate for your community and class." The nonprofit will make minor adjustments based on feedback from students’ regular classroom teachers but typically pushes back on any requests to change the core lessons, Karlin-Resnick said.

Health Connected’s intention, she added, is to train classroom teachers in Palo Alto so they could eventually teach the curriculum rather than the outside instructors.

In response to parent concerns about the specific scenarios activity, Health Connected decided not to offer it at Jordan.

Parents also took issue with the fact that Teen Talk asks students to define three types of sex — vaginal, oral and anal — as part of a lesson on abstinence. Karlin-Resnick said this is included because the law requires any curriculum to explain all methods by which people can contract sexually transmitted infections and to be inclusive of all sexual orientations. Instruction must include, under the California Healthy Youth Act, information about "the manner in which HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are and are not transmitted, including information on the relative risk of infection according to specific behaviors, including sexual activities and injection drug use."

Defining all three types of sex also expands the definition of abstinence, Karlin-Resnick said.

A middle school teacher and parent who asked to remain anonymous said she found the Health Connected curriculum to be age appropriate and not significantly different from what has been taught in the district for many years.

Complaints about how curriculum was adopted

Middle school parents first learned about the Teen Talk program in January, when school principals sent messages informing them that their children would be getting the curriculum that spring. The district later said the materials had been "fully vetted" by principals and the district's chief academic officers.

The school board was not involved in this review, as it would be in a typical curriculum adoption. McGee said "board approval was not required" given the nature of the Teen Talk program — a unit of instruction delivered by an outside agency with no textbook nor grades over the course of eight to 10 hours, rather than a full-fledged course.

Parents, however, argue that the district violated its own policies on curriculum adoption. A board policy on selection and evaluation of instructional materials states the superintendent should establish a review process that involves teachers in a "substantial manner" and also "encourage(s) the participation of parents/guardians and community members."

In Cupertino, a task force with teachers, parents, administrators and one student worked for several months before recommending the implementation of Teen Talk. Karlin-Resnick said going through a significant adoption process is the exception rather the norm in school districts the nonprofit has worked with.

Parents have also decried a lack of transparency in the process. The principals' message in January provided contact information for a Health Connected staff member for parents who had further questions or who wanted to review the materials themselves. Districts are legally required to allow parents to view materials prior to instruction.

Access to Health Connected's 308-page curriculum, however, parents said, was insufficient, with one physical copy made available but not to all of the middle schools initially. It is now available at all three sites, according to Karlin-Resnick. Health Connected has said it cannot post its entire curriculum online for proprietary reasons but is considering creating a parent guide that could be more widely accessible.

Health Connected also hosted parent-information sessions at each middle school and two free workshops before beginning the classroom lessons. Some parents who are critical of the curriculum and attended a session told the Weekly that Health Connected staff didn’t fully explain the content, and thus the parents said they saw no red flags at the time.

The principals also notified parents of their right to opt out. (Students who did so went to the library for an alternative lesson on plant and animal reproduction.)

Even parents who vehemently oppose the curriculum said opting out is not an option, however.

"To protect our kids is not to tell us to opt out," Cai said. "That is not right to me."

The district said it will collect feedback about Teen Talk from parents, teachers and students from all three middle schools once the program finishes at Jordan. This summer, staff will work "to make revisions and/or explore other programs that meet legal requirements and provide important factual information on the key topics," McGee wrote in a weekly memo on Friday. Staff will seek additional feedback from teachers, parents, and board members as part of that process, he said.

Parents said they're looking to spur long-term change — an age- and culturally appropriate sex education program that will benefit future students — and hope to accomplish that in partnership with the district.

But in a letter sent to McGee and board members on Monday, parents noted that legal action could be on the horizon. In Cupertino, parents have apparently consulted with The Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento-based legal nonprofit that specializes "in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties," its website states. A staff attorney submitted a legal opinion to the Cupertino school board and spoke on parents' behalf at that meeting, according to a press release from the nonprofit.

When asked if the Palo Alto parents had spoken with a lawyer, Cai refused to comment.

"The most important thing is the health and well-being of our students and then the parental right to education for the kids," she said. "We feel like this (has been) infringed upon and continually ignored."

Related:

Watch a discussion about the controversy on this week's Behind the Headlines video.

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Palo Alto parents protest new sex ed curriculum

District says program ensures consistency, complies with new law

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 7:23 pm
Updated: Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 10:27 pm

Palo Alto Unified middle school students learned about human reproduction, abstinence and healthy relationships this spring in a new sex-education program that now has some of their parents threatening legal action if the school district doesn't take steps to address what they say is age-inappropriate, graphic and even harmful content.

The Palo Alto school district asked Redwood City nonprofit Health Connected, which has for about six years trained the high schools' Living Skills teachers as well as district nurses in sexual health education, to teach its curriculum to seventh-graders this year.

The school district added the seventh-grade curriculum after a state law was updated with more comprehensive requirements around sex education for public schools and took effect last January. The California Healthy Youth Act requires districts to educate students about sexual health and HIV prevention at least once in middle school and once in high school. Previously, districts were only mandated to provide HIV-prevention education in middle and high school, though middle school science teachers in Palo Alto Unified said they have long taught their own sexual-health curriculum.

Using a single curriculum -- Health Connected's -- "ensure(s) consistency of information to all students" and compliance with the updated law, the district said in a statement. The district's single-year contract with Health Connected totals $55,600, which includes both elementary and middle school programs. (The high school sex ed is taught within the Living Skills class.)

While concerned parents said they support sex education, they argue that specific elements of Health Connected's middle school materials are encouraging rather than preventing risky behaviors, such as underage drinking and sex, and encroach on deeply held family values.

They have also criticized the district's process for selecting the program as hasty and unrepresentative, with no parent involvement, and have asked for a more thorough vetting process akin to the one required for adoption of a full curriculum such as mathematics.

"This is about the family," Erica Cai, one of several Palo Alto Unified parents who started an online petition calling for the curriculum's removal, told the Weekly in an interview. "This makes a lot of people feel like their parental right to educate their kids has been infringed upon."

Parent outcry has been gaining steam in Palo Alto over the last two weeks in the wake of similar uproar in the Cupertino school district, where last month the school board ultimately reached a 2-2 stalemate on whether to adopt Health Connected’s middle school program, called Teen Talk.

After Palo Alto parents saw this, the issue "started brewing inside the Chinese community" and spread beyond it over spring break, said Fang Mei, the father of a seventh-grader at JLS Middle School.

Parents formed a group and started gathering information about the topic before launching the petition, which has since collected about 1,200 signatures. The parents leading the effort have told the district that they will "resort to immediate legal action" if the district continues to offer Teen Talk in the middle schools. (The 10-hour program has already been taught to seventh-graders at Terman and JLS and is still in process at Jordan Middle School.)

The school district maintains Health Connected's curriculum is necessary, both for the district's legal compliance and for students' education and well-being and does not intend to stop teaching it this year.

Parents have been informed since before Teen Talk started that they have the option to opt out of some or all of the curriculum. Out of the close to 400 participating students at JLS, 17 opted out, according to the district. Of 239 Terman students, three did not participate. The number of opt-outs at Jordan is not yet available since the program has not been completed yet.

"I think it’s our responsibility to follow the law, to provide the education by trained professionals and to let parents opt out," said Superintendent Max McGee, who also said he respects families’ values.

Watch a discussion about the controversy

Curriculum seeks to be comprehensive

The California Healthy Youth Act states that sex education must be "integrated, comprehensive, accurate, and unbiased" as well as age appropriate, medically accurate and inclusive of all genders, races and sexual orientations. The law aims to provide students "with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect their sexual and reproductive health from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and from unintended pregnancy" as well as to "develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, marriage, and family."

The California Department of Education has purposefully not endorsed any one curriculum, according to Health Connected, to allow local school districts to select one that best fits their community.

The state agency, along with public and adolescent health experts, did conduct a review of 11 middle and high school sex-education programs across the state, including Health Connected, to determine their compliance with the new legal requirements.

The review found no "major" compliance issues with Health Connected's programs. The nonprofit said it has addressed all "minor modifications" identified through the review, which is posted on the Health Connected's website.

Teen Talk uses interactive activities, group discussions and homework assignments in 12 sessions over the course of two to three weeks. The first activity of the course asks students to walk to one side of the room, each labeled "agree" or "disagree" in response to statements like, "All young people should learn how to cook, clean, and do laundry, regardless of their gender" and "You should be in love with a person before you have sex with them." They discuss the statements as a class.

In Palo Alto middle schools, Teen Talk has been taught mostly in science classrooms. Trained sexual health educators employed by the nonprofit teach the curriculum, with students' regular teachers present in the classroom.

Open communication with parents about these topics is emphasized throughout the program, as required by law, including with a two-day homework assignment in which students are sent home to conduct a "parent interview" from a set of questions on sexual health-related topics.

Risky behaviors, like underage drinking or nonconsensual sex, are raised in a preventative light to help young people "put knowledge into practice in a safe and facilitated space before they encounter similar situations outside the classroom," Health Connected Executive Director Abi Karlin-Resnick wrote in an online FAQ posted Thursday in response to parents’ concerns in Palo Alto.

"It's a little bit counterintuitive for parents to understand that providing more information doesn't actually encourage the behavior," Karlin-Resnick said in an interview. "It actually prevents the behavior."

But petitioning parents disagree. The examples "encourage the feeling that sex is the norm at this age," Margaret Chai Money wrote on the online petition. "I understand some young people will experiment and believe information is important … but I don't think the scenario situations are necessary."

Karlin-Resnick noted that those specific scenarios, including one that describes a 17-year-old and 18-year-old having sex after drinking at a party, are part of an optional, additional activity that most Palo Alto Unified students didn't participate in.

An instructor guide notes that some subject matter in these scenarios (which draw from real teenagers' first sexual experiences) might be "too mature" for some students and advises educators to "choose the stories most appropriate for your community and class." The nonprofit will make minor adjustments based on feedback from students’ regular classroom teachers but typically pushes back on any requests to change the core lessons, Karlin-Resnick said.

Health Connected’s intention, she added, is to train classroom teachers in Palo Alto so they could eventually teach the curriculum rather than the outside instructors.

In response to parent concerns about the specific scenarios activity, Health Connected decided not to offer it at Jordan.

Parents also took issue with the fact that Teen Talk asks students to define three types of sex — vaginal, oral and anal — as part of a lesson on abstinence. Karlin-Resnick said this is included because the law requires any curriculum to explain all methods by which people can contract sexually transmitted infections and to be inclusive of all sexual orientations. Instruction must include, under the California Healthy Youth Act, information about "the manner in which HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are and are not transmitted, including information on the relative risk of infection according to specific behaviors, including sexual activities and injection drug use."

Defining all three types of sex also expands the definition of abstinence, Karlin-Resnick said.

A middle school teacher and parent who asked to remain anonymous said she found the Health Connected curriculum to be age appropriate and not significantly different from what has been taught in the district for many years.

Complaints about how curriculum was adopted

Middle school parents first learned about the Teen Talk program in January, when school principals sent messages informing them that their children would be getting the curriculum that spring. The district later said the materials had been "fully vetted" by principals and the district's chief academic officers.

The school board was not involved in this review, as it would be in a typical curriculum adoption. McGee said "board approval was not required" given the nature of the Teen Talk program — a unit of instruction delivered by an outside agency with no textbook nor grades over the course of eight to 10 hours, rather than a full-fledged course.

Parents, however, argue that the district violated its own policies on curriculum adoption. A board policy on selection and evaluation of instructional materials states the superintendent should establish a review process that involves teachers in a "substantial manner" and also "encourage(s) the participation of parents/guardians and community members."

In Cupertino, a task force with teachers, parents, administrators and one student worked for several months before recommending the implementation of Teen Talk. Karlin-Resnick said going through a significant adoption process is the exception rather the norm in school districts the nonprofit has worked with.

Parents have also decried a lack of transparency in the process. The principals' message in January provided contact information for a Health Connected staff member for parents who had further questions or who wanted to review the materials themselves. Districts are legally required to allow parents to view materials prior to instruction.

Access to Health Connected's 308-page curriculum, however, parents said, was insufficient, with one physical copy made available but not to all of the middle schools initially. It is now available at all three sites, according to Karlin-Resnick. Health Connected has said it cannot post its entire curriculum online for proprietary reasons but is considering creating a parent guide that could be more widely accessible.

Health Connected also hosted parent-information sessions at each middle school and two free workshops before beginning the classroom lessons. Some parents who are critical of the curriculum and attended a session told the Weekly that Health Connected staff didn’t fully explain the content, and thus the parents said they saw no red flags at the time.

The principals also notified parents of their right to opt out. (Students who did so went to the library for an alternative lesson on plant and animal reproduction.)

Even parents who vehemently oppose the curriculum said opting out is not an option, however.

"To protect our kids is not to tell us to opt out," Cai said. "That is not right to me."

The district said it will collect feedback about Teen Talk from parents, teachers and students from all three middle schools once the program finishes at Jordan. This summer, staff will work "to make revisions and/or explore other programs that meet legal requirements and provide important factual information on the key topics," McGee wrote in a weekly memo on Friday. Staff will seek additional feedback from teachers, parents, and board members as part of that process, he said.

Parents said they're looking to spur long-term change — an age- and culturally appropriate sex education program that will benefit future students — and hope to accomplish that in partnership with the district.

But in a letter sent to McGee and board members on Monday, parents noted that legal action could be on the horizon. In Cupertino, parents have apparently consulted with The Pacific Justice Institute, a Sacramento-based legal nonprofit that specializes "in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties," its website states. A staff attorney submitted a legal opinion to the Cupertino school board and spoke on parents' behalf at that meeting, according to a press release from the nonprofit.

When asked if the Palo Alto parents had spoken with a lawyer, Cai refused to comment.

"The most important thing is the health and well-being of our students and then the parental right to education for the kids," she said. "We feel like this (has been) infringed upon and continually ignored."

Related:

Watch a discussion about the controversy on this week's Behind the Headlines video.

Comments

BP Parent
Barron Park
on Apr 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm
BP Parent, Barron Park
on Apr 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm
94 people like this

It's a good program. If you don't like it, opt your kid out.


Me
Midtown
on Apr 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm
Me, Midtown
on Apr 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm
61 people like this

So, would you rather a kid find out the hard way by getting an abortion or popping plan b? If you're so socially conservative in a "liberal" city, then you need to wake up a little bit.


Sadaf
Green Acres
on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm
Sadaf, Green Acres
on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm
62 people like this

I went through this program at JLS in 7th grade in the year 1995. We learned so much about everything and it stayed with me for life. Parents should be happy their children are learning these subjects as a class and in a safe place. They can freely ask questions without any judgements and with teachers they know and trust.

No need for protesting. If you're not happy with Palo Alto's education system, then move out... people come from all over to be part of our school district! Continue teaching this program Palo Alto.


Getting Along
Community Center
on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:35 pm
Getting Along, Community Center
on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:35 pm
23 people like this

In my pre-pill high school, sex education was solely afterschool lab sections conducted in a car parked in a dark isolated spot, with pop quizzes by parents after most classes.


john_alderman
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:50 pm
john_alderman, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 14, 2017 at 9:50 pm
29 people like this

@Me - we (nearly) all vote liberally, but Palo Alto is not a particularly socially liberal city, and has become less so with the increasing number of Asian families that still have strong traditional family values. My advice to them is to go seek partners in the Palo Alto Catholic and LDS communities, and you can probably get a better program adopted.


Cathy
Fairmeadow
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:15 am
Cathy, Fairmeadow
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:15 am
73 people like this

I support the petition. This is not how my 7th grader to be taught.If you read the materials yourself, you may agree with me


A Jordan Mom
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:19 am
A Jordan Mom, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:19 am
80 people like this

There are way better programs available on market now, but PAUSD adopted this one in a hurry without following any correct procedure. This is really fishy! I want my kid got proper Sex Ed but I want school, board, superintendent and most important, parents review it first! What is he reason to hide it from parents?! We can review and make choice on math curriculum, why we cannot review this one?!


Carol
Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:21 am
Carol, Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:21 am
31 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


JLS parent
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:23 am
JLS parent, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:23 am
30 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


You did what?
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:27 am
You did what?, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:27 am
26 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Julio
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:29 am
Julio, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:29 am
89 people like this

There're many changes in the curriculum this year due to the new law, yet parents were NOT informed of such significant change. Most importantly, the new curriculum didn't go thru the required process of review and approval. These parents strongly support comprehensive Sex Health Education and are asking to work with PAUSD to select an age-appropriate and science-based curriculum from various vendors available on the market. Other school districts have selected American Red Cross, and many local parents are using Lucile Packard's Heart to Heart series.


Jordan 7th grader parent
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:34 am
Jordan 7th grader parent, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:34 am
53 people like this

We want to see what are our options. Why this one? Why is it better than others?


JLS
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:35 am
JLS, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:35 am
27 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Be Responsible
Fletcher Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:35 am
Be Responsible, Fletcher Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:35 am
73 people like this

This new version of sexual health curriculum by Health Connected is very different from the previous curriculum taught in 2010 or earlier. Anyone who has not seen the 2017 Health Connected curriculum yourself should refrain from applying judgement on others who have seen the curriculum first hand. Please be responsible when making comments.

There are multiple sexual health curricula available. Is Health Connected the most appropriate one? Who has vetted the curriculum? What they have considered when vetting this curriculum? If these questions cannot be answered to the satisfaction, it brings this curriculum adoption into question.
The school district should be responsible for the decision they make.


PaParent
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:42 am
PaParent, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:42 am
80 people like this

I want my kid to have an age appropriate sex health education. I don't want him to learn how to enjoy alcohol and casual sex at the age of 12, and go find a clinic when he gets STD without talking to his parents. I am very angry to know PAUSD gave this kind of "education"to my kid, without informing me about this big change of the contents ahead of the time.


Kat
Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:45 am
Kat, Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:45 am
35 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Be Inclusive
Fletcher Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:46 am
Be Inclusive, Fletcher Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:46 am
29 people like this

[Portion removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Helen
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:49 am
Helen , Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:49 am
24 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Palo Alto Concerned Parents
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:54 am
Palo Alto Concerned Parents, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:54 am
81 people like this

We SUPPORT sexual health education: We believe sexual health education is very much needed, helpful for mental and physical development. As parents, we support schools provide appropriate sexual health education to our kids.

OUR CONCERN: the age and cultural inappropriateness of the current Health Connected materials. As mandated by the State law (AB-329 Sec 4 (d) (1) “Instruction and materials shall be appropriate for use with pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds, pupils with disabilities, and English learners.”

OPT OUT IS NOT A GOOD OPTION: we don't want to see families opt-out. We want our kids to receive sexual health education from their regular program as everyone else.

PAUSD MUST follow Board Policy 6161.1 and California Education Code 51937, 51938 on adopting sexual health education curriculum and instructional materials. School district must restart the process; evaluate available curriculum on market, and involving parents in the evaluation


Get It Right
Downtown North
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:54 am
Get It Right, Downtown North
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:54 am
31 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Amanda
JLS Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:58 am
Amanda , JLS Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:58 am
53 people like this

The curriculum should focus more on early sex risk, on the other hand, this one encourages early stage sex and drinking and is definitely not appropriate for 7th graders.


Walter Hays
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:02 am
Walter Hays, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:02 am
26 people like this

[Portion removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Margaret
Professorville
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:17 am
Margaret, Professorville
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:17 am
75 people like this

This has nothing to do with just Asian families feeling this way. Many of us who signed th petition come from different backgrounds including quite a few who were educated in the USA in the public school system and have actively chosen to Keep our own children within the public school system although we could go private. Most of us believe in basic sex education. The issue is the material makes drinking and sex seem like the norm and is written in a way that sounds like adults trying to mimic the way kids communicate. The material doesn't seem appropriate for 12 year olds. Forcing parents to opt their kids out so kids get no info doesn't seem reasonable. Many people I know were very happy with the way sex Ed was presented in 5th grade in Palo Alto. Can't the info be presented more like that?


Emily
Fairmeadow
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:25 am
Emily, Fairmeadow
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:25 am
80 people like this

After reading some of the materials myself, it's hard for me to believe there is any parent who would want their kids to be taught in this way. Not just Asians oppose this curriculum, many American parents who care about the development of their kids are very much concerned. This curriculum promotes early and casual sex and encourage 12 year old kids to experiment different kinds of sexual activities. What kind of parent would think this as a "good" program? The school district has done a bad job letting a dangerous curriculum sneak into our children's classroom! They are responsible!


Eliza
another community
on Apr 15, 2017 at 4:49 am
Eliza, another community
on Apr 15, 2017 at 4:49 am
35 people like this

I'm a high school student in Tennessee, a state notorious for it's absolutely abysmal sex ed. What I've found is that a disturbingly large portion of the (mostly higher-income) high school population is sexually active. More worryingly, I'm aware of many middle schoolers who are as well.

Why? I'm fairly certain that it's because these kids are bored. They've also never really been cautioned otherwise: while I wasn't present for the sex ed that I'm told they're given in the sixth or seventh grade, the high school sex ed (a unit in the Lifetime Wellness class) had two components: one promoting abstinence, presented by what seemed to be a conservative family-values group; and one warning about STDs, presented by the county health department. The health department's presentation, in my opinion, was the better of the two; however, I can't honestly say that I remember being told about any type of birth control--not even condoms. Nor were we taught about the dangers of alcohol and drugs with sex--something I feel that my peers definitely need. (There's a definite party culture among the more popular kids at my school.) We weren't even taught about consent or any of the social and emotional effects of sexual relationships. (I did, however, learn much of this at my middle school in Virginia.)

So, parents of Palo Alto, I agree that it's odd that the curricular materials aren't widely available. And while many of you may feel uncomfortable with your children being taught about some aspects of the curriculum, I can say with some certainty that saying nothing is of greater detriment. What I recommend is that you have "The Talk" with your kids before and after they're taught the Teen Talk class--but make it "The Discussion". Ask them about what they've learned and tell them how you feel about it. Explain. Listen. By creating a transparent dialogue, sex ed becomes more than a scary topic taught at school; rather, it becomes a point of understanding. My mom had this discussion with my sister and me, and I'm nothing but glad for it.

But hey, it doesn't matter to me, I'm gay :P


Grace mom
Palo Alto High School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 6:33 am
Grace mom, Palo Alto High School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 6:33 am
19 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Tracy
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2017 at 7:19 am
Tracy, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2017 at 7:19 am
13 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Weekly reader
College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2017 at 7:38 am
Weekly reader, College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2017 at 7:38 am
45 people like this

I hope the school board doesn't listen to a few loud voices. Our students need accurate sex Ed.


Terman parent
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 7:39 am
Terman parent, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 7:39 am
6 people like this

[Portion removed due to same poster using multiple names]


No more presumption
Community Center
on Apr 15, 2017 at 8:13 am
No more presumption, Community Center
on Apr 15, 2017 at 8:13 am
6 people like this

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Albert
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 8:15 am
Albert, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 8:15 am
33 people like this

There is something wrong with requiring a large portion of parents to "opt-out" as a solution. Why not let kids opt-in instead? Also what's wrong about traditional family value? What's correct if lack of traditional family value?


A Parent
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:05 am
A Parent, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:05 am
53 people like this

"I hope the school board doesn't listen to a few loud voices"

This was said repeatedly in the debate about weighted GPA reporting. And then when the district finally did a survey, it turned out 77% of students (out of 1500+) and 84% of the parents (out of 1000+) support reporting weighted GPA. So much for that "few loud voices" theory - it turns out they were saying what almost everybody was thinking.

So let's stop trying to marginalize the concerns of our neighbors (esp. when some of them happen to be Asian and/or immigrants) just because they don't conform to the liberal orthodoxy. It's not a "few loud voices" - it's a lot of people, with legitimate concerns, that need to be addressed.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:16 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:16 am
36 people like this

The BoE and Superintendent appear to have their own ideas and are not willing to listen to parents concerns. This is true in a lot of the "hot topic" issues in the past few months. The renaming of schools is a great example of how the BoE just wants to steam roller their ideas without listening to the general consensus of public and parental opinion.

What the BoE fails to understand is that they are not higher beings, just volunteers who have decided to take on this leadership roll and been elected. They do not necessarily have any education to put them as higher minded than the rest of the population. They do not necessarily have more knowledge, more compassion, empathy, understanding, or anything that gives them this higher moral stance than anybody else. What they have done is volunteered and won an election. It seems that humility and common sense goes away with the achievement of office.

They are not superior to us, just our elected spokespeople. Please let them listen before they speak (and vote) on our behalf.


A Parent
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:20 am
A Parent, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:20 am
32 people like this

In fact, what's strange, and a little sad, is that in a district with over 36% Asian students (more actually, since multiple ethnic heritage is counted as "Other"), not a single member of the school board is Asian. It's not surprising they have to raise their voice to get attention. They need a seat at the table.


Weekly reader
College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:22 am
Weekly reader, College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:22 am
31 people like this

So run for school board on a platform of higher stress and sex Ed that reflects conservative family values. If you win, you get to vote how you want.


A Parent
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:27 am
A Parent, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:27 am
14 people like this

@Weekly reader, umm, thanks for that civics lesson. If you run and win, you can call out those "few loud voices" who are so wrongheaded from the dais. Until then, how about we just voice our opinions?


Lara
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:31 am
Lara, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:31 am
4 people like this

Abigail Karlin-Resnick is an executive director of Health Connected and a PAUSD parent.


Former Paly parent
Palo Alto High School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:36 am
Former Paly parent, Palo Alto High School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:36 am
37 people like this

My prediction: a huge increase statewide in private school enrollment. Why? A combination of kooky state and local school destruct policies, mandates, etc. with respect to life topics such as this. This is Cakifornia, make no mistake.
I support sex education, including age appropriate information, but not crazy outlier talk at a young age.


teacher
Southgate
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:09 am
teacher, Southgate
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:09 am
10 people like this

You want to protect your middle-high school kids? Listen to them often. Be an older wiser friend and show them that limits pay offBe on their side when they fail and help them see what went wrong. That's the real protection they need. Everything else is noise. Don't be noisy.


Trust the parents
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:09 am
Trust the parents, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:09 am
21 people like this

What's age appropriate for middle schoolers is best vested with the parents of current middle schoolers.

"Programs" have a shelf life no matter what topic but parents have the most current pulse of the age group.

Use the parents to make the program useful to them, as much as the kids because empowering parents with a good program, the kids will be better for it.

And if this isn't what the Board is for, what is?


A Jordan Mom
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:24 am
A Jordan Mom, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:24 am
22 people like this

Re: john_alderman "Palo Alto is not a particularly socially liberal city, and has become less so with the increasing number of Asian families that still have strong traditional family values. My advice to them is to go seek partners in the Palo Alto Catholic and LDS communities"

WOW! what a un-American to tell other race how to live their lives! this is not " liberal" and civil! Does Palo Alto embrace diversity? it sounds not by this comment! Do everyone entitle to a different opinion and view?


Weekly reader
College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:29 am
Weekly reader, College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:29 am
2 people like this

[Post removed.]


future resident
Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:42 am
future resident, Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:42 am
12 people like this

Re: john_alderman "Palo Alto is not a particularly socially liberal city, and has become less so with the increasing number of Asian families that still have strong traditional family values. My advice to them is to go seek partners in the Palo Alto Catholic and LDS communities"

Oh, is this the beautiful and highly regarded Palo Alto? [Portion removed.] Don't we entitle to a different views or opinion? sexuality has many forms so do perception and views!


Member
St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 15, 2017 at 11:02 am
Member, St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 15, 2017 at 11:02 am
28 people like this

To those who support the current curriculum by Health Connected: Have you been to the school offices and read the materials? If not, please do and then we can have a civilized conversation. It is NOT what you had for sex ed years ago. For one, the scenarios the kids are supposed to discuss involve kids 16 to 18 having an alcohol party and having sex. Do you seriously think our 7th graders, who are 12 to 13 years old, should learn this?


Mom of 2 Jordan students
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2017 at 11:26 am
Mom of 2 Jordan students, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2017 at 11:26 am
40 people like this

1. The main concern is with new "sexuality" education program (rather than factual sex education) that was implemented in 2016. If you haven't read the new material, please refrain from asking concerned parents to opt out or move out!

2. The concern is with specific examples [portion removed] of underage sex and alcohol consumption, which many of us concerned parents think it is inappropriate for middle school age. After all, sex with minors and underage drinking are illegal! Also, we disagree with the subliminal messages that pregnancy and STD can be dealt with by the professionals, without parent knowledge and involvement.

3. We support FACT-BASED sex-education, that is age appropriate and focuses on puberty, health and awareness of different gender identity issues and preferences, etc. The fabricated examples are completely unnecessary for teaching the subject. So opting out is unfair to us and our kids. Not only do we pay exorbitantly high taxes to "benefit" of the PAUSD education, but also the opt-out kids could be ridiculed and pressured by their peers. This is the last thing we want our kids to experience in PAUSD!


Re-Unite?
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 15, 2017 at 11:31 am
Re-Unite?, Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 15, 2017 at 11:31 am
32 people like this

In the past couple of years, I kept hearing the grumpy whispers from all corners of this town about "Asian Invasion". During the last half a year or so, the whispers have gone a lot louder and the disgruntled complains took the tunes like "go back to your home country if you do not like how things are done here", to accusations like "how could a guest dare to demand the rituals at the hosts' house"....

This was disheartening to say the least, for someone who has taken to heart Palo Alto as their home. I was hoping that the grumpy could join the rest of our friend circle in Palo Alto, and get along as good neighbors and supportive community members. The "invaders", after all, did contribute to local economy, to the extent that it is not negligible, even by the grumpy bunch.

Just to be sure, I looked up wikipedia and found out that the Ohlones were the ones who lived in our area, scattered from San Francisco to Monterey. They hunt and fished, and lived in the tipi huts, before any of us showed up. So there.

While we each reflect our own family roots and traditional values, maybe we could each lend a hand, try our best to help each other out, by sharing one, only one, point of view of ours, so others from the opposite side of fence could get it?

It has been a tough year with the board election. We are blessed that there has been plenty of rain, no natural disasters, and our kids have been healthy, at least on the surface.

With so many intelligence and wealth from this community, how about we try to put our differences away, try to understand, and be understood, try to re-unite, as one hella community, big and tall, as we deserve to be?


teacher
Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 11:49 am
teacher, Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 11:49 am
57 people like this

@Member-
"To those who support the current curriculum by Health Connected: Have you been to the school offices and read the materials? If not, please do and then we can have a civilized conversation. It is NOT what you had for sex ed years ago. For one, the scenarios the kids are supposed to discuss involve kids 16 to 18 having an alcohol party and having sex. Do you seriously think our 7th graders, who are 12 to 13 years old, should learn this?"

**As a teacher who teaches kids from the area, you are NAIVE. Guess where all the little kiddies are going when you leave the house overnight? To those parties in the Los Altos Hills- smoking pot, having sex, and all the fixings that go with it. They run circles around your moral platitude and are very good at keeping it from you. As one who is contained with a room full of teenagers, the Monday morning highjinx quarterbacking are on full display in their social media circles. Get real and educate yourself.
*That being said, MY kid by the time they are a freshman, whether it be through me or the educational system will know all the birds and the bees, essence of rape culture, respecting boundaries, Plan B, STD's and all the gross cooties that go along with it, have their HPV shot, and know ALL the avenues and social constructs where unintended consequences can first arise. They are called HORMONES- Google it.


JLS parent
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm
JLS parent, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm
31 people like this

To those who never read the current HC textbook (new in 2017) and made comments against concerned parents, please stop being ignorant. Do a bit more homework [portion removed.] Many parents including myself went to the school office and spent one and a half hours going through the textbook. It did raise concerns for those who still care about their teens' immature minds. The Sex Ed program IS a GREAT program only when the process of material choosing is correct. Unfortunately the school district has failed to do so. Parents' protesting to get involved is nothing wrong and will NOT jeopardize any student's benefit. In fact, it will help most kids get educated in this program and save time for school offices to deal with opt-outs.


JLS parent
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm
JLS parent, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm
36 people like this

@Teacher: Thanks for sharing your personal experiences/observations and those could be universal to all the other families. But I'm sorry to let you know that you are missing the key point here. The concerned parents WANT their kids to be educated, everything you've mentioned! They need to learn how to protect themselves instead of being opt out because the material is not well chosen. These parents are way ahead of you!


Being honest
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm
Being honest, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm
29 people like this

Read lots of comments and I think people have some misunderstanding of this curriculum disaster. The issue is not having sex education or not, the issue is how the new curriculum passed without any careful review process. Parents have rights to vote which curriculum to teach at school, like math curriculum.


I Like Our Community
JLS Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm
I Like Our Community, JLS Middle School
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm
2 people like this

[Post removed.]


retired guy who follows the schools
Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:12 pm
retired guy who follows the schools, Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:12 pm
11 people like this

Pretty sure were destined to make ourselves only miserable, miserable miserable with misunderstandings and argument about this one.

The issue's right smack at the center of so many BIG ISSUES we all have such passionate and personal and instinctive and irrational opinions about!

I'm talking about Parenting and Raising Families (which everyone does differently and instinctually and is so personal.)

I'm talking about Public Education and the Public Schools, and what role they're supposed to play or not play in people's private lives.

I'm talking about of course the biggest one: Sex, and everybody's powerful and different and irrational feelings about it.

I'm talking about Cultures, which have different customs toward Sex just the way different Families do.

I'm talking about Teenagers, a whole different time of life involving secrecy and rebellion and experimentation....

This discussion is just right smack at the middle of so many befuddling and complicated Human Issues that just require so much Humility in the face of them and I'm not sure we have that humility!

Yep, I think we're just destined to make each other miserable with misunderstandings over this one!


That's just racist
Charleston Gardens
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:31 pm
That's just racist, Charleston Gardens
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:31 pm
10 people like this

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

Different people have different values, and often that's based on family backgrounds - ethnic, religious, economic, part of the country. I figure diversity is one of the big selling points of our community. Are you one of those who only like diversity that agrees with or defers to your views?


stop this complaint
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:39 pm
stop this complaint, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:39 pm
16 people like this

[Portion removed.]

It's pretty clear that the "concerns" of the parents complaining about sex ed focus on the inclusivity of the curriculum and the treatment of gay sex as just as normal as straight sex. Sorry, but that's a law and it's also just the right thing to do. [Portion removed.]

The school board's job is to protect LGBT kids. Stand up to this [portion removed] behavior by these parents [portion removed.]

Board -- stand up for all kids. Some of our kids are gay and trans and they need your support now.

[Portion removed.]


john_alderman
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:45 pm
john_alderman, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:45 pm
4 people like this

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


stop this complaint
Southgate
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:51 pm
stop this complaint , Southgate
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:51 pm
1 person likes this

[Post removed.]


john_alderman
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm
john_alderman, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm
5 people like this

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


JLS parent
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:55 pm
JLS parent, Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 1:55 pm
28 people like this

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.] The concerned parents have no interests in challenging the new law which requires sex Ed to include gay sexuality. You still haven't got the point that parents are protesting to get involved in material choosing to make sure it's age appropriate. That's it.


That's just racist
Charleston Gardens
on Apr 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm
That's just racist, Charleston Gardens
on Apr 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm
4 people like this

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Midtownian
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:17 pm
Midtownian, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 15, 2017 at 9:17 pm
18 people like this

In remembering what junior high was like, one of my girlfriends started having intercourse with her boyfriend before she'd even started menstruating. Other friends chose oral, and all of them loved sneaking beers and liquor from their parents stash. Cigarettes were also fun to experiment with. None of them did street drugs, as they weren't popular at the time (early 1990s). So given this is my perspective, I'm all for educating children about sex education starting as early as 6th grade! So hearing this is a junior high program doesn't seem soon enough. As parents, if you're worried about what your kids are learning in school, then pay for private school education. Or, better yet, talk to your children about sex before the school does. Children can learn from their schools, parents, and if applicable, family religious affiliations, and be all the better for having the differences in opinions. After all, even if you aren't teaching your children about sex, their peers are. So who do you want educating them about potentially life changing actions?


Sanctimonious City
Registered user
Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:51 pm
Sanctimonious City, Barron Park
Registered user
on Apr 15, 2017 at 10:51 pm
53 people like this

In the eyes of the Liberal Progressive government, parents are not the shepherds of their children's values but rather the state is the true owner. It is responsible for the social, emotional, academic, medical and now sexual development of your kids.

What's more, it is continuously pushing its agenda to earlier and earlier ages. First college, then high school, now middle school and soon all the way down to full day kindergarten. Once they get that level of control, just imagine what they will teach then. It won't be education but indoctrination. The motive will not be to inform but how to perform.

This new sex education bill actually closes the circle nicely. It is not a coincidence that this material has moved down to 6th grade. You may have noticed that as a parent you no longer have access to the medical records of your child starting at age 12. When visiting the medical facility with your kid, the attitude changes and the doctor awkwardly but politely asks the parents to leave the examination room. The online account grays out their links.

For sure, you will be expected to pay for the insurance bills but you cannot find out about their condition without the child's consent. The state government works in much the same way. You are expected to pay more and more taxes but have less and less control in the lives of your offspring.

Is your child sexually active? Using alcohol or drugs? Suffering from a STD?
Pregnant and seeking an abortion? Gay or have gender dysphoria?

The parents may never know but if the Liberal Progressive government gets its way then the teacher, the school counselor and the doctor might and that will make them unnecessary. And that is really the ultimate objective, to break down the family unit and replace the upbringing of its citizens with the state.


Parent with 2 kids
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2017 at 7:27 am
Parent with 2 kids, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 16, 2017 at 7:27 am
9 people like this

@Midtownian "As parents, if you're worried about what your kids are learning in school, then pay for private school education."

I am an immigrant so the Public/Private school system is a very curious thing to me. It's very clear that most (if not all) people have the assumption that Private schools are much better, including the sex ed. I am curious: how do private schools do the sex ed? If they are much better at it, can public schools do the same? Is it a matter of money? or something else?


School choice
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Apr 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm
School choice, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Apr 16, 2017 at 12:13 pm
10 people like this

@Parent with 2 kids -- It's not so much that private schools are better. It's just that you can choose one that reflects your values, and expect the sex-ed (and more) to be tailored accordingly.


Paly Student (Class of 2019)
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Apr 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm
Paly Student (Class of 2019), Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Apr 16, 2017 at 1:28 pm
61 people like this

This is from a Paly Student. Please read! :)

This is an issue that students in PAUSD like myself should have a greater voice in. Sex education is vitally important in middle school. Middle school is a time when many kids enter puberty and first experience sexual feelings. These can be strong and hard to deal with at the beginning, something I am sure all of you know. If sex education is not broad in its explanation of sex, (oral, anal, and vaginal) uninformed kids could end up deeply hurt. STI’s can be transmitted through any sexual contact, kids need to know that. There is no reason why genders should be separated for Sex Ed. It could actually be quite harmful. Any gender nonconforming student is placed in an unfair position and, when it comes to anatomy, trans students are also at a disadvantage. As a gay guy, I would personally feel more comfortable in a co-ed group. I am never having sex with a girl, but I will with a boy. Why should I be forced to be with only boys when I learn about sex? This is not “SEX SEDUCTION” as these fear mongering parents claim. It’s sex ed! They may not know, but many middle schoolers have had orgasms. It’s part of our anatomy. Lastly, this is personal. It can be hard to come to terms with your sexuality. Having scenarios with people from the LGBTQ community is really really nice. Please keep sex ed the way it is. The petition set up by these parents says “Thank you on behalf of your kids.” As a kid in this community, this petition does not speak for me.


JLS parent
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 16, 2017 at 5:02 pm
JLS parent, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 16, 2017 at 5:02 pm
23 people like this

@Paly Student (Class of 2019):We value everyone's voice. Your voice should NOT be GREATER than others just because you are a "Paly Student (Class of 2019)" or a gay boy. We acknowledge everyone's civil rights doesn't mean a certain group should have privileges over others. Rest assured, this petition won't impact you as you are already in 10th grade if your ID of "Paly Student (Class of 2019)" is real.


A Jordan Mom
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 16, 2017 at 5:38 pm
A Jordan Mom, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Apr 16, 2017 at 5:38 pm
21 people like this

@Paly Student (Class of 2019):As a parent, I support age appropriate Sex Ed and strongly agree it is a must for kids. But everybody needs to do things the right way. If you REALLY read the petition, you will know that those parents who signed the petition just had question about the adoption process of this curriculum. They want PAUSD follow its own policy, read the curriculum themselves, evaluate available materials on market, and involve parents in the selection process for the sex Ed curriculum, before it is being taught to kids. You know that by law 12-year-old can only watch PG-13 movies. If parents need guide their 7th graders movies, why cannot they guide their 7th graders which curriculum they should learn?!


Younger PA Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2017 at 11:15 pm
Younger PA Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Apr 16, 2017 at 11:15 pm
30 people like this

I understand the difficulty of seeking out student quotes for this article, but I would be very interested in the opinions of those actually receiving these lessons. As someone who was in their shoes not too long ago, although I didn't participate in many of the behaviors discussed until many years later, at 12 or 13, I was certainly well aware of them. I sincerely doubt that this material will be students' first introduction to concepts surrounding sex. Rather, it should serve as an invitation to discuss these concepts in a healthy, open way, rather than receiving information about supposedly taboo subjects solely through pop culture and social myth. If parents are concerned about the messages that their kids are receiving, it is incumbent upon them to provide more information around their own kitchen tables to put school lessons into context. It's fine to communicate your own values openly to your child; it is not acceptable to limit other children's access to important information based on personal objections.

I have not read the full Health Connected curriculum, which it sounds like is only able to be viewed as a physical copy, but I found the excerpts highlighted as objectionable by parents on the online petition to be frank and healthy in their tenor. Interestingly, of the three "couples' vignettes" that the petitioners chose to highlight as alarming, two involved same-sex couples. To be fair, I don't know without reading all of the teaching materials how many discussions of same-sex relationships are featured overall. However, the selection of these particular stories strikes me as indicative of the fact that the protesters are perhaps upset at something beyond the manner of curricular adoption or some topics being "too mature" for seventh graders. If there is an element of negative moral judgment about sexual orientation playing a part, PAUSD needs to be clear that it has no place in our public schools.


Another
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2017 at 7:52 am
Another, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Apr 17, 2017 at 7:52 am
6 people like this

None of us can have an informed opinion on this without seeing the actual curriculum texts and materials that some here find so objectionable. I have not seen any links to actual materials, only statements that the materials are horribly inappropriate.

Can someone post links to the materials or provide us with substantial excerpts (not just a one phrase or sentence) so that we can be fully informed and come to own own conclusions?


A Jordan Mom
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 17, 2017 at 9:01 am
A Jordan Mom, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Apr 17, 2017 at 9:01 am
13 people like this

@Another: I heard that it is not until March (after this curriculum had been taught for couple of months), one hard copy was available for review in JLS (need to ask staff to take it out from locked office), then now in Jordan for review. I heard the hard copy in Terman was removed, do not know the reason. That is the initial reason parents set up this petition for transparent review process.


jlsparent
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Apr 17, 2017 at 9:08 am
jlsparent, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Apr 17, 2017 at 9:08 am
40 people like this

The full materials can be viewed upon request in person at the middle schools. If you follow the link in the article to the petition, it includes a link to a one page flyer with several excerpts that are being flagged as objectionable. (Note: The one that refers to alcohol and a casual sexual experience is clearly placed in the context of regret/bad decisions. The two that are more positive about sexual experiences involve someone effectively confirming their feeling that they might be gay, and a couple who has been dating for ~2 years planning in advance to have sex for the first time and then having a positive experience. We all might have different opinions about whether these are "ok" situations at the age portrayed, or whether there were some poor choices in the way they played out in the vignettes, but some of the claims about the materials seem exaggerated, even without the context that these are "additional materials" that are intended to may not be used in all classes.)

Fwiw I have a seventh grader who went through the curriculum this year. I got an email notice two weeks in advance that included contact info as an avenue for questions or if someone wanted to review the materials, in addition to the opportunity to opt out. The lessons sparked some discussion at home. Nothing about the conversation suggested to me that it was understood by my child as "encouraging" anything other than being well informed. The parent interview homework was a built-in opportunity for the parent to be involved and include family perspective.

It's a personal subject, and I can understand the desire for more transparency in how the curriculum was chosen, but the dramatic description of the materials as encouraging illegal behavior or being "seduction" seems to me a bit at cross-purposes with the objective of a thoughtful approach to the topic.

I do tend to be of the opinion that kids are better off learning about these things in a fact based educational context (and that most middle schoolers will likely be hearing many messages about sex, alcohol, and more from peers and media whether parents like it or not!).


Another
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Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2017 at 10:15 am
Another, Adobe-Meadow
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on Apr 17, 2017 at 10:15 am
38 people like this

Thanks, jlsparent! I just went to excerpts part of the petition (Web Link) to view what the petitioners found objectionable.

They highlighted the passages that they found most "shocking":

1. Two teens take advantage of the fact that one's parents are out of town to get together and have sexual relations.

2. One kid decides to have an "alcoholic drink" and after her inhibitions are loosened up from the alcohol, decides that since she was 17 and still a virgin, she should "give it a try".

3. Two 17 year-olds go to a clinic to get birth control. One of them says that they've enjoyed masturbation but found that actual sex with another person "felt wonderful".

At the top of this excerpt section, they say that the PAUSD curriculum is guilty of "Promoting crime such as statutory rape, drinking alcohol at 17 and MUCH MORE!!!"

The petitioners' premise appears to be that content such as this may reveal to Palo Alto teens that drinking alcohol, hooking up with their love interests when their parents are away, and masturbation are things that they can do. Presumably, the petitioners' believe that their children would remain oblivious to these things if only PAUSD did not shed light on them.

As an Asian American born in the US whose parents were first generation immigrants, I’m familiar with the social conservatism and reticence among those who grew up in Asia--especially the older generation. American-style openness about sex, dating, and expressing love and one’s feelings is simply something that many from that background are very uncomfortable with. (I would add, however, that the Asian immigrants in highly-educated communities like Palo Alto are not necessarily representative of the broader societies back in Asia. Anyone who’s spent any time living in Asia in the past few decades will realize that plenty of young people do not share this sort of conservatism.)

Anyway, while I understand where these parents are coming from, it seem to me that their perspective is extremely naïve and ultimately not helpful to their kids. In an age where porn is (unfortunately) all over the internet, do they believe that their pubescent kids, with raging hormones and familiarity with the internet, are going to remain so innocent about the details of sex? Do they really think that their kids, whose academic prowess and high intelligence give them such pride, aren't smart enough to figure out that parents not being at home means that their activities won’t be monitored? Do these parents really think that their kids can go through high school in the United States and never learn that kids their age sometimes drink? These kinds of expectations would actually be unrealistic for kids living in China/Taiwan/Korea/etc. today, not to mention the US.

I’ve found that the district is making a sincere effort to provide kids with helpful information on these matters in a sensitive way, using realistic scenarios as teaching moments. I would encourage those offended by the curriculum to opt out. But I also suspect that there may be a big gap between what these parents think they know about their kids and what is really going on.













A Jordan Mom
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 17, 2017 at 10:16 am
A Jordan Mom, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Apr 17, 2017 at 10:16 am
17 people like this

When I went to the Fairmeadow info night last week, some parents ask Health Connected why do not they make the curriculum online. Health connected said they do not want teachers steal the material and teach outside of the school and make profit. But here is the curriculum used by schools in San Francisco:

Web Link

I wonder why cannot Health Connected do same?


A Jordan Mom
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 17, 2017 at 10:31 am
A Jordan Mom, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
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on Apr 17, 2017 at 10:31 am
23 people like this

@Another: Thank you for spending time providing those examples. It is a curriculum for 12 year old, do you think it is appropriate if we replace the age in the examples to 12-year-old?

1. Two 12-year-old take advantage of the fact that one's parents are out of town to get together and have sexual relations.

2. One kid decides to have an "alcoholic drink" and after her inhibitions are loosened up from the alcohol, decides that since she was 12 and still a virgin, she should "give it a try".

3. Two 12 year-olds go to a clinic to get birth control. One of them says that they've enjoyed masturbation but found that actual sex with another person "felt wonderful".

If it is a curriculum for 12-year-old, why including those 17-year-old examples? Why not use 12-year-old age appropriate examples?


JLS parent
Registered user
Midtown
on Apr 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm
JLS parent, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm
17 people like this

@Another: Thank you for sharing your personal experiences/perspectives as an Asian American. Unfortunately your assumption of the US is more open than China/Taiwan no longer holds. (well, there are some areas in China that are not well developed. That's another topic irreverent to our current issue.) One thing I definitely agree with you is " Anyone who’s spent any time living in Asia in the past few decades will realize that plenty of young people do not share this sort of conservatism." Many parents have noticed that the US grown Chinese kids are more naïve/simple than the kids of same age grow up in China, in many ways! If you are still judging based on your experience with your parents' generation, you are probably out.

For a 12-year-old, I have great confidence in saying "I know my child better than anyone else". As the kids grow older, this confidence level drops. I know this textbook is too much for my child to handle at an age of 12 or 13. I'd like to compare what's available in the market (law-compliant) and see if there is a better option. Is this too much to ask? "Take as it is" or "opt out" is not the best approach to solve this problem.


Midtownian
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Midtown
on Apr 17, 2017 at 3:08 pm
Midtownian, Midtown
Registered user
on Apr 17, 2017 at 3:08 pm
26 people like this

@ JLS Parent: For what it's worth, your 12-year-old can handle it. Be sure you are not projecting your own emotions onto your child. Earlier in this thread I shared memories from my own experience with junior high, back in the early 90s. So here is another story for some more perspective on what kids are dealing with.

I attended a Christian school through the 9th grade, and there was never any sex-education given during that time. At age 13 I was invited to a party, and this friend was in my class. While it was thought there would be parents present, there weren't, and some of the kids brought beer. I did not drink, and was woefully out of place in the scene, but I was at my friends house and wasn't going to be the baby who asked to go home. Present at the party were some boys who I didn't know from another school, who were 14 or 15. What I did not have the skills to deal with was what happened to me when one of the boys, who's name I never did learn, pulled me in a closet and forcibly used his fingers down my pants. This was my introduction to sex, and it has not been a good memory to carry with me. I'm lucky my friend came looking for me and he had to stop the assault. I said nothing about it to anyone, not even my friend.

I was in what should have been a safe place, with my peers and a trusted friend, and had to deal with a predator who was almost my same age. Now think about how much more prepared I would have been to have had the skills to deal with that situation? My own mother would not talk about sex. My school would not talk about sex. The church would not talk about sex. So I learned about it from my peers!

Please parents, give your kids the skills they need to keep themselves safe in this world. You can't shelter them forever, and kids understand what sex is at a much earlier age than you might think. Yes they are your kids, and you want to protect them, but in protecting them, you are also failing to prepare them for the realities in the world.


JLS parent
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Midtown
on Apr 17, 2017 at 4:15 pm
JLS parent, Midtown
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on Apr 17, 2017 at 4:15 pm
17 people like this

@Midtownian: Dear midtown neighbor, thank you so much for sharing your story! I feel very sorry for what happened to you in the past. I definitely want my children to learn the skills to protect themselves. That's why I do not prefer the "opt out" option. I'd love to see this program include more teaching about how to deal with situations like what you went through. You are right, we need to prepare our kids for the realities. That's why I'd like to get involved in kids' sex education, get involved in reviewing the material that's going to deliver important messages. There is a subtle difference between being protective and being responsible. We are always learning to deal with the boundaries. But in this case, it's so much more about responsibilities. We are not afraid of talking about sex with kids at home. Matter of fact, my 6th grader shares a lot with me including the teen talk between her and her close friends (some are 7th graders). She said she was disgusted on some of the topics while I thought those should be pretty mild for her. That's where I knew I'd be careful not to push her too much.


Jordan/Paly parent
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 17, 2017 at 10:15 pm
Jordan/Paly parent, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Apr 17, 2017 at 10:15 pm
15 people like this

My 8th grader said they appreciated getting the knowledge before they need it. They thought it appropriate and building on what they learned in 5th and Heart-to-Heart. Some kids need it sooner than others. More difficult scenarios are covered in Living Skills, which my Paly kid went through - and had to discuss with us. For worried parents, don't take this class early. However, it's essential before college and thank goodness it's handled by a teacher.


Marley
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Barron Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 3:29 pm
Marley, Barron Park
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on Apr 18, 2017 at 3:29 pm
2 people like this

[Post removed.]


Jordan2023mom cares
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Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2017 at 4:11 pm
Jordan2023mom cares, Old Palo Alto
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on Apr 19, 2017 at 4:11 pm
6 people like this

Once again: The issue here is to request the curriculum appropriate for 7th graders.
Of course our kids need sex education with the appropriate curriculum. The new curriculum is designed for age 14-18 but PAUSD adopted it for 7th grade next school year.

Please read the materials before jumping to the arguments.


PA parenting
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Apr 21, 2017 at 11:07 pm
PA parenting, Charleston Meadows
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on Apr 21, 2017 at 11:07 pm
14 people like this

My 5th & 7th graders just went through Health Connected's puberty/sex ed classes. Great program. And yes, I read the entire curriculum for each class.

In the past, I haven't been happy with the puberty/sex ed provided in PAUSD schools because the curricula wasn't inclusive and didn't teach enough for kids to make responsible choices or be prepared, so I enrolled my kids in Our Whole Lives classes. Teaching just the scientific facts is doing a disservice--our kids need to be emotionally prepared to handle different scenarios that *will* come up--especially around alcohol use. 7th graders need to learn this.

The homework asks for a lot of parent input and discussion, making parent values a significant part of the lessons. Great opportunity to stress your unique family values. A majority of Palo Alto parents are happy with this curricula. Many of the petition signers against it aren't even from Palo Alto.


Stay-at-home Mom
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Apr 24, 2017 at 4:30 pm
Stay-at-home Mom, Palo Alto High School
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on Apr 24, 2017 at 4:30 pm
4 people like this

I've raised my kids with attachment parenting so we have open lines of communications with our children. We talk about everything, including sex ed.

My children who have graduated from PAUSD had "sex ed" but learned mostly about birth control methods, otherwise, hardly anything worthwhile. My middle school child learned much more in this new program. Although I disagree that they should teach "oral, vaginal, anal" (because anal is very dangerous without condoms and they don't teach them that aspect), I have to say that the program is much more blunt and informative than any other "sex ed" my other children were presented.

And I know that most students have little communication with their parents, and surely sex ed is not communicated. While some of the things they learned made me wince, this program is definitely important for them, because most parents do not teach their children with such bluntness. And as an Asian born in the U.S., I know the Asian immigrant parents would be too squeamish to teach them as thoroughly as this program does. Although, I think that they should teach this in 8th grade instead.


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