I am writing as a community member, professional, and future parent of an OPS child. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Sex Therapist (and in 2016 I will be the only person in the state who is both a Certified Sex Therapist and Certified Sex Educator), I have dedicated my entire education and career committed to this work.
I wanted to touch base in light of the forum this evening at the TAC building and the vote on November 16 from the OPS School Board. I hope that you have been supported by parents, students, teachers, and the community to move forward with implementing sex education that is both comprehensive and medically accurate.
Unfortunately, sex education is the only curriculum that doesn’t have any standards or requirements of educators. We certainly wouldn’t let a history or math teacher educate in our schools without a degree, let alone without continuing education and an established curriculum. For example, you would never ask me to teach a music class, because I can’t read notes. The same standards should exist for sex education. Not only does the teacher need to be educated and aware, they need to be comfortable and competent teaching the subject matter. To meet the needs of our youth, and the astronomical numbers of gonorrhea and chlamydia in Douglas County, as well as the number of pregnant mothers each year in OPS, we need to have a sex education curriculum. Setting standards ensures that adolescents get the most accurate information there is, just as they get they get in their science and history classes.
I’m sure you have a lot to consider, but most importantly, please consider the future of your students. Sex education will never be the most popular class among parents because no one wants to see their child grow up and think of them making adult decisions. However, I would argue that sex education is the most important class adolescents may receive, as most people will transition from abstinence to sexually active at some point in their lives (75% of us by the time we graduate from high school). When you consider a topic like consent, it is a lesson that should be taught in Kindergarten, because it’s not okay to take someone else’s toy without asking! The lessons can be tailored and age appropriate, but they need to start early and with accurate information. Our youth needed trusted and competent adults to teach them. I know that I am one of those adults and I hope we can stand next to each other.
Kristen Lilla MSW, LCSW, CST
P.S. to readers, go find out who it in your district and a send a letter of support ASAP! Need more info? Watch this: http://www.kmtv.com/news/local-news/ops-to-propose-revisions-to-outdated-content-in-sex-education or read this: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/fscse.pdf