Scottsdale Unified School District Revives Sex Education After Extended Break

Scottsdale Unified School District Revives Sex Education After Extended Break | Future Education Magazine


Scottsdale, AZ – In a move signaling a shift in education policy, the Scottsdale Unified School District has announced the reintroduction of sex education after a lapse of several years. The decision comes following a hiatus since 2011, driven by the need for curriculum updates and anticipation of legislative changes.

Associate Superintendent Karen Benson revealed during a recent governing board meeting that the district halted sex education around four years ago due to an outdated curriculum and anticipation of evolving laws impacting its selection. As expected, recent legislative changes in Arizona have indeed influenced the approach toward sex education.

In 2021, former Governor Doug Ducey signed a law prohibiting districts from providing sex education before the fifth grade. Additionally, the law mandates that parents must be given a meaningful opportunity to participate in, review, and provide input on any proposed sex education course of study. Committee meetings for material review must be open to the public, with proposed materials available for public review for at least 60 days and at least two public hearings during that period.

A Closer Look at Sex Education Choices in Schools

Although Arizona law doesn’t mandate sex education in schools, parents must actively opt in if it’s offered. The 2021 legislation extended this requirement to “any instruction, learning materials, or presentations regarding sexuality” outside formal sex education curricula. Consequently, lessons on puberty and human growth were also paused in Scottsdale Unified.

As of September 2023, only 28 states and D.C. mandate sex education, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Benson stated that the decision to reintroduce human growth and development instruction and sex education was prompted by requests from parents and nurses. The district aims to offer parents choices in meeting their children’s educational needs. Elementary school nurses and fifth-grade parents expressed interest in resuming lessons on puberty and hygiene, while middle school parents sought opt-in opportunities.

“We recognize the benefits of providing families with developmentally appropriate opportunities for our students to learn more about human development, body image, and sexual health,” said Benson, emphasizing the positive impact of such education on students.

Scottsdale Unified Board OKs Advisory Panel for Updated Sex Ed Program

To facilitate this reintroduction, the governing board unanimously approved the creation of an advisory committee during the recent meeting. The committee, comprised of 10 individuals selected from 28 applicants, includes staff members and parents with healthcare expertise. Board members Amy Carney and Julie Cieniawski have also nominated themselves to serve on the committee.

Benson clarified that sex education can take various forms, ranging from providing resources for parental discussions at home to partnerships with healthcare clinics and community organizations. The committee’s upcoming meetings, scheduled over the next few months, will involve public hearings in March and April. Proposed materials are expected to undergo board review in May and June, with potential implementation for the next school year, subject to approval.

This decision marks a significant step in addressing the evolving landscape of sex education in schools, providing parents with an active role in their children’s learning journey.

Also Read: Massachusetts Offers Its Proposed Framework For Sexual Education To The Public For Discussion

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