Austin Schools Ask Parents When and How to Talk About Sex

Birds do it, bees do it, ISDs do it

Austin Schools Ask Parents When and How to Talk About Sex

Preliminary results from an Austin ISD survey on the district's Human Sexuality and Responsibility curriculum were revealed last week. The survey, which was sent to parents, staff, and some high school students, asked respondents to assess whether and when topics are appropriate for K-8 students. For example: By eighth grade, students should be able to "explain the range of gender roles." Respondents indicate that topic should be taught in sixth, or seventh, or eighth grade – or all of the above.

As of press time, 5,863 surveys had been tallied; including close to 4,700 from families (most with students in elementary schools), 496 from staff, and 526 from students. The survey divides topics into three grade-level groups (K-2, 3-5, and 6-8); in all of these, respondents broadly supported teaching "personal safety" (such as consent) and "healthy relationships" (such as respecting all types of families in all grades). However, only 46% felt third-graders should be taught that sexual orientation is defined as "romantic attraction" between an individual and "someone of the same gender or a different gender"; 31% said this information should be withheld until fifth grade.

AISD Director of Academics Kathy Ryan said the district also needs to analyze comments provided in the survey to gain more insight into how to shape the revised curriculum. Recommendations will be presented to the board of trustees in February.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin ISD, sex education, Human Sexuality and Responsibility, gender roles, Kathy Ryan

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