Report presented to Curriculum Committee
By Ben Rodgers
A committee recently agreed to present the school board with what to teach students and when in regards to human growth and development.
The document approved by the Curriculum Committee for the Manawa School District outlines what students should know and when they should know it by for a subject many might call “sex ed.”
The document is broken down into what students should know by the end of second grade, the end of fifth grade, the end of eighth grade and the end of 12th grade.
“We went through standard by standard and tried to figure out where we felt the community’s comfort level would be,” said Carmen O’Brien, business manager, former curriculum director and member of an ad hoc committee that did the ground work for this document. “Some people were more comfortable, some people were less comfortable and this document then is that compromise.”
The document recommends many things, but in part, that by the end of second grade students should know the proper names for body parts, including female and male anatomy. By the end of fifth grade students should be able to identify medically accurate information about female and male reproductive anatomy.
By the end of eighth grade students should be able to define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender. Also, by the end of 12th grade differentiate between biological sex, sexual orientation/identity, and gender identity and expression.
“As an ad hoc committee it’s not our job to write the curriculum, to say what should be taught in first, second, third grade, but what we’re telling them is these are the areas where we feel these should be taught,” O’Brien said.
The ad hoc committee that met several times was a diverse group that included parents, teachers, a church leader and even a student. It came up with the conclusions that presented to the Curriculum Committee, on Tuesday, May 2.
“I didn’t quite know what to expect,” O’Brien said of the ad hoc committee. “We had fine, cordial discussions. It didn’t get heated or anything but it was interesting to hear different peoples’ perspectives.”
District administrator Dr. Melanie Oppor said the group leaned more on the conservative side.
“Honestly even around the table some of the topics were difficult for adults to talk about, because we weren’t raised in an era where we talk freely about those topics,” Oppor said.
Around the discussion of sexual identity parent Stephanie Riske said it would be prudent to lean toward community values.
“I can see taking the conservative route, because that’s what most of the community is,” Riske said.
The document also isn’t meant to write any curriculum, O’Brien said. Once the full board approves it, it would then be up to the teachers to implement the topics and insert them into lessons.
Some topics may require a special class, while others are things that could be brought up in general coursework.
In all the document covers areas of anatomy and physiology, identity, healthy relationships, personal safety, pregnancy and reproduction, puberty and adolescent development, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
Board member Russ Hollman made the motion to present the document to the full board, board member Bruce Scheller seconded. The motion carried two votes to none. Board member Héléne Pohl was absent.