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Unsigned Editorial: New CA Sex Ed Program Honest and Inclusive

artwork by Shana Neto

artwork by Shana Neto


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   In January of 2016, California adopted the California Healthy Youth Act, which requires school districts to provide a comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education in public schools (aclunc.org). In response, the San Diego Unified School District revamped their sexual education curriculum to meet the new standards. However, the San Diego Union-Tribune states that this new program has been met with opposition from parents. Some believe that the new lessons are too graphic and inappropriate for students (sandiegouniontribune.com). In reality, this new curriculum is not only more open and honest with the students, but it is also more inclusive towards the LGBTQIA community.

   According to the San Diego Unified School District website, the new curriculum provides “support for LGBTQ-inclusive environments” (sandiegounified.org). This includes an entire unit on understanding gender, where teachers address sexual orientations and gender identities. “There is definitely more discussion on gender equality and what gender is. This means looking at terms people aren’t familiar with when we consider the LGBTQIA community. The new curriculum helps students recognize what those terms are and also emphasizes respecting their peers and what their peers identify as,” said Biology Teacher Janelle Javier. “I like that it opens up with that lesson. I like that the first discussion is talking about pronouns and respecting other people’s chosen pronouns and what they identify with.” Immediately, teachers address gender and respect, setting the tone for the rest of the curriculum. According to Javier, in the situations that students act out, it’s not just a cis-heterosexual couple. There are same-sex couples, couples whose members don’t adhere to the gender binary, and couples who represent a wider spectrum of people. The new curriculum is definitely more inclusive, and by getting students to have these conversations, a safe environment is created where everybody feels accepted.

   Not only is the curriculum more inclusive towards the LGBTQIA community, but it also teaches students valuable skills. “There is more focus on healthy relationships and being able to identify red flags for unhealthy relationships.  It helps students figure out how to communicate what their needs are and what their lines are, so that people respect them. We also identify what is and is not respectful,” Javier said. While the sexual education still addresses ways to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, it also covers important skills such as decision making, interpersonal skills, and communication. These lessons are more well rounded and balanced, allowing students to get as much information as possible.

   While there are still areas which could use improvement, overall, the changes are a step in the right direction. Students are taught acceptance and respect, but the lessons also makes them more comfortable with the LGBTQIA community. Javier said, “From a teacher’s perspective and a scientific standpoint, I believe that it is a big improvement from what it was before. It gives people the correct information and also the power to build confidence to be able to see if somebody is violating respect. It gives students the confidence to say no and call out any inappropriate behavior.” It still addresses the more scientific part of sexual education, while teaching students valuable skills that they can carry with them throughout their lives.

   This new curriculum is extremely beneficial to students because are taught not only about the health and science part of life, but also how to be openminded and how to make good choices. There is an admirable effort coming from the students and the teachers in teaching and accepting these lessons, and we at the Commander, look forward to seeing more positive changes this year.

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Unsigned Editorial: New CA Sex Ed Program Honest and Inclusive