Sex education in the Kyrene Elementary School District could include the definitions of sexual practices if the governing board approves the changes tonight.
Middle school students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades would learn the “medical definitions” of sex, including oral, anal and vaginal sex, as part of the new curriculum.
In addition, sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea would be discussed.
The health curriculum for the district hasn’t been updated since 1994 and was devoid of the medical definition of sex, said district spokeswoman Jennifer Grentz.
The change is necessary because “it’s part of a medical definition,” Grentz said.
“How can you teach abstinence if they don’t know what defines sex?” she asked.
The proposed curriculum still takes an abstinence-only approach, with lessons on the benefits of abstinence and the message that the “only 100 percent sure way to avoid pregnancy is abstinence from sexual intercourse.”
In June, the school board tabled the issues to address language inconsistencies in the proposal. The inconsistencies were changed, but nothing else, Grentz said.
Parent Marcia Iole supports the curriculum changes and said the district “should give the children as much information as possible . . .”
“I talk to my daughter (about sex), but I know a lot of parents feel uneasy,” Iole said.
Iole, whose daughter, Cecilia, attends Kyrene Middle School, said some parents are worried that “children will be ostracized” if their parents allow them to opt out of the class.
District president Rich Zawtocki said the issue could be tabled again, but “I wouldn’t anticipate it at all.”
Zawtocki said he received many emails, including some complaints, in June when the change was first discussed, but since then he hasn’t heard from any parents.
If passed, the curriculum’s materials would be on public display for 90 days and would go into effect this school year.
Centennial Middle School principal Kathy Cranson-Miller said she expects that at least four teachers from each middle school would receive some sort of training if the changes are approved.
In the past, the health curriculum was taught in physical education classes, but with the “extensive” new curriculum, “I believe we would need a cadre of teachers in each school who are knowledgeable and able to teach it . . . (and) it wouldn’t be until next spring,” Cranson-Miller said.
What: Kyrene Elementary School District board meeting.
When: 7 p.m. today.
Where: Ben Furlong Education Center, 8700 S. Kyrene Road, Tempe.
More info: www.kyrene.org.