NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk School Board voted Wednesday night to approve a new sex education curriculum for the city’s public schools.
Board member Rodney Jordan had the sole “no” vote.
The new curriculum, called Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education, is aimed at grades six through 10, and will add the understanding of terms like homosexuality, lesbianism and abortion to classrooms. Students will also learn about condoms.
Subjects such as abstinence, sexual protection and more are already taught in Norfolk Public Schools.
Chief Academic Officer James Pohl said the new teachings won’t be forced on students. Parents can take their children out of all or just some lessons at any time.
“A lot of parents who were uncomfortable with these items, which they have every right to be, they’re the parents, but they did find other ones that they liked, other pieces and the children that did opt out were sent to someone for instruction,” said school board member Lauren Campsen.
Many school board members applauded that part of the new teachings.
“I will be voting in support of this,” said board member Carlos Clanton. “Let the message go back loud and clear to our parents, you have the final say you always have the opportunity to make sure that you’re involved, and we encourage you to be involved in the educational process of your child.”
But what do parents think?
Over 100 of the 202 surveyed by the district supported adding all of the new topics to sex education.
Some school board members share the same thoughts.
“It’s critically important for the reasons, partly of what Mr. Clanton just said. For being inclusive and for addressing public health principles, it’s rooted, it’s medically accurate, it’s rooted in public health principles and rooted in human rights,” said Tanya Bhasin.
Other members of the board believe that more work must be done to educate parents.
“So maybe in some of these focus groups or conversations around our goals around family and community engagement, that we’re excellent at trying to make sure that parents understand not just in this curriculum, but any curriculum what’s being offered,” said Rodney Jordan.
Not all parents support the proposed curriculum. Some who were surveyed said they thought sixth graders were too young to learn about the added topics, while others worried about the cost.
The curriculum came as part of a grant through a partnership with Eastern Virginia Medical School.