Newly implemented sex-education curriculum in Palo Alto middle schools has stirred up controversy among parents.
Health Connected provides the curriculum, Teen Talk, which addresses the changes required by the California Healthy Youth Act which was passed in January 2016 and mandates public schools teach a more inclusive and comprehensive form of sex-education.
Some of the new topics include sexual identity, pregnancy options, sexual assault and consent. However, the changes have prompted complaints from parents who believe the curriculum is inappropriate, too casual, and encouraging of bad behavior.
“For some kids who have taken the course, it has caused anxiety, stress or [has been] upsetting,” says Jingjing Xu, parent of a sixth grader in Palo Alto Unified School District.
Laura Prentiss, a social worker and parent, supports the curriculum’s additional information on consent and different sexualities and advocates for it at an even earlier age.
“More education is better and it actually prevents the behaviors,” Prentiss said. “[It is important to] look at more than the biology.”
While Xu says the curriculum is not age-appropriate, her main concern is the lack of transparency.
“We urge the school to form a committee … [of] teachers, parents and students and to make the whole procedure transparent and show scientific evidence for why and how we have this [curriculum],” Xu said. “If we end up with the same, we’ll fully support it, but it’s important to make it accessible and transparent.”