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School board majority defends sex ed process

Original post made on Jun 7, 2017

On Tuesday night, three of five Palo Alto school board members stood by the district's selection of a new sexual education program, though they acknowledged what they said were some missteps in communication and transparency with parents during its implementation.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 9:02 AM

Comments (41)

Posted by Support Todd and Melissa
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2017 at 10:52 am

Todd and Melissa care about following the rules and they both listen to the community. The other three board members take the approach of "Take it or Leave it". Remember whom NOT to vote for in year 2018.

Posted by PTA Member
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 7, 2017 at 11:24 am

Actually the other Board members are interested in following the law and district policy and not wasting precious time and money on a pointless review. You would think after a year of weighted GPA, sex Ed, renaming, and sexual assault drama that Todd and Melissa would be interested in moving past hot button issues rather than continuing to spend time on them.

Posted by a concerned parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 7, 2017 at 11:48 am

With such a division in the community with the 1st time launch of a new curriculum after a new law requirement, The three board members showed no interest to hear the voice in the community and had no interest to explore all the options available to get the best material. The curriculum was picked in limited time with so little involvement from the parents. Why cannot we review it?
Ironically, PAUSD does NOT have the best practice in this area and it is under investigation for sexual harassment and there are many incidents covered up for many years. You would think they want to show some effort in the due diligence process. But no... What is there to lose to start a review process? What are you afraid of if you really believe the current material is the best???
We will remember you attitude and decision during the next election. Enough is enough. If you don't have time to listen to/service the community, then don't do it.

Posted by Frank
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm

PTA member,

No, they are not following the policy. To address 1700 parents' concern is a waste of time? No matter how good they think the curriculum is, among all the curriculum supporters, not a single person can or dare to answer why HC curriculum is the best without comparing with others. Some people care about HC revenue more than students' well-beings.

PAUSD had a history of ignoring procedures. Why are board so busy fighting fire on multiple fronts? because they did not follow proper procedures as a habit, otherwise the hot buttons would not exist.See OCR report yourself.

Web Link

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm

As an active community member I'm very disappointed by why the most important part of community: Parents & Students' rights were neglected, before the final vote board still have opportunity to solve it by having a mini-review to regain parents' trust and cooperation. However by shutting them off I'm afraid it'll only cost more to PAUSD, potential lawsuits, more angry and disappointed parents, less support and donation to our school community.

I'm really hoping school board will not lose this opportunity to solve the issues when parents are still willing to cooperate and work with PAUSD as partners.

Posted by PTA Member
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Yes I can certainly see that a review committee full of people who want to argue that this is all about HC's revenue will make the best decision for students.

The fact is there is a group of parents who don't want explicit sex education. The problem is the state passed a law requiring it. Having a committee where people fight about that is a waste of time and a distraction. Call Marc Berman or Jerry Hill if you​ want to complain about the law.

Posted by Solon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Is VIDEO of a teacher sex presentation available?

Is there a link to a TRAnSCRIPt?

Are the SLIDES available to the paying public, or the parents?

WEBSITE for the provider?

YELP reviews even?

We would like to know more as parents and public to make more informed decisions.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Jun 7, 2017 at 1:04 pm

My post from the other thread.

My take on sex ed is yes it has to be there, but it has to be done in such a way as to take the pressures off the teens who are reluctant to have sex and get involved in parties, drugs, alcohol as being as normal and healthy as those who do decide to get involved in sex.

I don't get involved in all the materials out there, but I do believe that teaching the subject should be done in such a way as those who "want to say no" to sex until such time as they are in a stable, long term relationship, or mature to deal with the issue are validated. I don't want them being told that when they get to high school (or whatever right of passage) that normal teenagers do sex and they will be pressurized into joining that culture. Saying "no" is perfectly acceptable.

I would also like to find out more about what is happening in these high school bathrooms. I think that if girls and boys were punished for going into the "wrong" bathroom then a lot of potential problems would not occur. If somebody goes into the wrong bathroom for any reason then it is breaking down societal norms. A girls bathroom should be a place of refuge for a girl and being asked into a boys bathroom for any reason is a red flag.

Posted by a concerned parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 7, 2017 at 1:20 pm

To PTA Member: Why HC revenue is even a discussion item in the review process? It should all about students well being. If this provider/content cause so much division in the community, why shouldn't we try to find a provider/content that align with most families here? Why should anyone care about HC here? It's all about Palo Alto and our students. If you care about HC, go ahead donate whatever you like.

Where do you get the problem is people don't want explicit sex education??? Did you attend the meeting? Why keep putting words in people mouth and refuse to listen??? The law also requires parents involvement. If you have any question, please read AB329 and CA education code section 51937

Posted by will they never learn
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm

How long did we just spend choosing a Math curriculum? I guess that was just a "waste of time" as well.

Posted by PTA Member
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 7, 2017 at 1:37 pm

"If this provider/content cause so much division in the community, why shouldn't we try to find a provider/content that align with most families here?"

QED. It's the reaction of the minority of parents who don't like the state mandated education for our kids that is causing division. Blaming the provider is shooting the messenger. If anyone believes prolonging this will produce unity and agreement, just read this thread or watch videos of the board meeting, or read their petition.

Posted by Rumor
a resident of Palo Alto High School

on Jun 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm

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Posted by Sarit Schube
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Thank you to Jennifer Debrianza, Ken Dauber and Terry Godfrey, who are the voice of reason in this debate. I am grateful to them for acknowledging that given this is a 10 hour program, follows state law, and the district has a preexisting relationship with Health Connected, there is no need for a parent committee to be formed and thus Health Connected should continue to provide sex ed.
Thank you also to the Student Board Rep, was very vocal about the need to make sex ed mandatory for Freshman. Currently the only sex ed in High School is through the Living Skills Class and many students don’t take this until second semester senior year.

Posted by Jordan parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Comprehensive sex ed is the law for good reason. Lack of information leads to earlier sexual activity, stds, teenage pregnancy, sexual assault - the things all parents would agree we want to avoid. With accurate information our children can make better decisions and have more positive relationships and experiences. I've reviewed the HC materials my son brought home (he just finished 7th grade), and I think it is very high quality. I wish there was such a program when I was in school! I also wish this kind of high quality curriculum was used in all districts in California. A lot of districts, especially more rural ones, are way behind us on this issue, and kids (especially girls) suffer in those places.

Posted by The Minority?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2017 at 6:09 pm

The minority who disapprove of sex education in school is a large one, perhaps enough to cause trouble.

Yet they may be the ones in for trouble if their kids are without this valuable education; the chances are good that they aren't talking about these things with their kids at home, either.

Ignorance can be dangerous!

Posted by South Palo Alto parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2017 at 10:32 pm

I believe there are more than one curriculum vendors who can provide sexual health education program that meets the California laws. Given the nature of the divided community, is it possible to provide two options from two different vendors who all provides comprehensive sex ed, so the parents/students can have a choice ?

From yesterday's meeting, it is a bit surprising that the defenders of Health Connections were giving strong signals of protecting LGBT community rights. Even ACLU people was there to speak. Is this really what it's about? I think any vendors should provide materials that are inclusive and treat LGBT community equally. On the other hand, that does not prevent a choice between different vendors.

Posted by Mom's Thoughts
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 8, 2017 at 12:00 am

In the race to grow up quickly and feel independent, "Sixies" very quickly learn swearing is the cool thing to do! If you ever pass middle schoolers biking home, it's f-bomb this and f-bomb that. They ALL do it. Please don't think your kid does not. They all do it so that they FIT IN. Also they bike through Stop signs because they just don't see the big red hexagon right there on the pavement. Yep!

My sixth grader, at eleven and a half years old, was "asked out" on day one of Middle School!!! Thankfully manners were used with a gentle let down! Half way through Middle School year, my sixth grader informed some of the popular girls were "dating"! While chaperoning on a field trip, I overheard a student say a classmate was dating a "sixies" as he always said hi so they were "definitely dating". Oh the raw innocence of it all.

What's my point! Well even though a minority of parents don't like state mandated sex education for our kids, know that life is throwing all sorts at our sprouting Middle Schoolers. They have Cell phones. They have Internet access. They have very sensitive feelings. They have raging hormones and acne. Oh Cofveve!

Kids need to all hear the same sex-ed language, see the same graphic detail. They will squirm in disgust and embarrassment. If you, as a parent feel your child is too immature for sex ed or you want to take control over what your child should hear, trust your instinct. Teach them when you think they are ready. But please consider strongly not prohibiting every child from learning. A practical solution for you is to opt out at school and teach your child at home.
In the meantime, be open to your seventh grader who will hear from classmates anyway even if what they learn grows legs in the telling!

Walk your child to school (if they let you), listen in on their conversations with friends (discreetly), remember how you felt at their age (self-conscious, awkward, spotty, cocky or a know-it-all). There is genuine emotional struggle. They are all trying to fit in and be like everyone else. It's too hard to stand out.

I went to a Convent school where the Nuns did not permit sex education. When an 8th grade classmate fell pregnant, the ridiculous gossip that ran rampant through my school about how it happened would make you laugh out loud at our very stupid innocence.

I want my child to feel empowered, safe and make smart choices. We raise our kids and then hand them off to the world. We all hope to goodness they will be ok. We all assume they will be smart enough to get through.

If there is issue with the Board on how they handled bringing Sex Ed to Middle Schools or because it's mandated by the State, they are two distinct issues. One solution would be to ask older students to weigh in on what they would have wanted to hear back in seventh grade? They are the end user of this knowledge after all! Their voice truly is the most important here.

The powerful third issue methinks is what all our seventh graders will learn positively together in a safe environment, delivered by professionals.

Posted by You'll Never Get It
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2017 at 7:49 am

Sexual Health Education = Health Connected Program. Period! If you ever have any doubt on Health Connected, you are denying Sex Ed. That's the logic here for a group of people. HC is the only choice, only expert, you don't like it, you don't want you kids to be educated. And PAUSD is notorious for not following proper procedures. Why would they make this one right. Wait and see.

Posted by Get it
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 8, 2017 at 8:13 am

Health Connected is the best in this field. Why would you not select the best organization for the job? Is it controversial? Yes! Why? Because it's inclusive of same-sex examples of sex. I'm sorry to tell those of you who are bothered by this, but our kids are growing up in different world than we did. They are learning about same-sex parents, transgender students, etc in early elementary school and they are accepting of all of it, unlike some of us.

My child just finished the course and...surprise, it didn't make her want to go out and experiment! Gasp! Amazing, isn't it? She said, if anything, the talk about all of the STIs made her never want to have sex! That's what good, comprehensive sex Ed looks like. It actually decreases the rates of teenage pregnancy, decreases the rates of STIs in young people, and increases the age of first sexual encounter.

Please, if you aren't happy with the current program, just opt out and teach your kid at home. You have every right to do so.

Posted by You'll Never Get It
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2017 at 8:25 am

The Best? How did you know this without a comparison? A program that scares you child is the best? Doesn't make sense. Your logic again here, if people have doubts on HC, they don't like LGBT. In fact, I have a co-worker who is gay. She is a very close friend. We went to her baby shower. Her child plays with my kids. My kids know their friend have two Moms. How dare you make such assumptions that people ask for a proper procedure hates LGBT?

Posted by Get it
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 8, 2017 at 8:50 am

Oh yes, please tell me all the ways you're not homophobic.
This argument is not about procedure. The school district followed procedure. This started with some people in the Asian community getting upset about the homosexual content. Period. There is no denying that. The petition has nothing to do with procedure and everything to do with content.

Posted by Longtime parent
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 8, 2017 at 8:52 am

"A program that scares you child is the best?"

I doubt if it's the student who's scared of comprehensive sex education in this picture.

Posted by You'll Never Get It
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2017 at 9:03 am

To longtime parent:

Here is the quote: Amazing, isn't it? She said, if anything, the talk about all of the STIs made her never want to have sex!

The child is scared.

People defending HC so strongly has an agenda. Mostly in financial. If HC lost, they lose money. Otherwise they don't have to worry so much about using another law compliant and high quality sex Ed program.

Posted by Longtime parent
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 8, 2017 at 9:10 am

"People defending HC so strongly has an agenda. Mostly in financial. If HC lost, they lose money."

Yes, please sign up the district to spend scarce time and money to run a "curriculum review process" that provides a forum for making hysterical charges that sex ed scares children and that district staff are profiting financially from Health Connected.

Thanks to the board majority for having the wisdom to confine this [portion removed] to Town Square, where nobody's time is wasted except voluntarily.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Jun 8, 2017 at 9:14 am

I feel I have to weigh in on this again.

My concerns about sex education is to do with the fact that there seems to be more to do with permissiveness (sexual promiscuity) rather than giving teens the message that sexuality involves responsibility and commitment to another person. Anecdotally, I know that many high school students won't go to dances, parties or other social activities because they have the idea that they are full of people having sex. They think up excuses not to go because they don't want to get involved in the sexual culture, but won't tell their peers that they don't want to go because of all the sex that goes on.

I know anecdotally that some of the girls think they are odd if they say they would rather not have sex and some of the boys are just not interested in girls yet. Some of the boys aren't even going to Prom because they don't want to ask a girl, or going on their own and just sitting with their buddies and not interested in mixing with the girls.

I have heard that a lot of the boys who have been taught the sex ed part of living skills say that it was boring or gross and a waste of time.

Yes, there are a lot of promiscuity types of teen girls and boys. But there are a lot more who aren't and many of them are too shy to admit that there are things they are not mature enough to want to get involved in.

For these reasons, I want to be feel comfortable that what they are being taught is teaching them the message that it is not "everyone" who is doing it and that they are perfectly normal if they choose to wait. From what I hear this message is not getting through to many of the students.

Posted by Get it
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 8, 2017 at 9:21 am

My child was not scared. I never said that. Frankly, not much scares a 13 year old, which is part of the reason teenagers are so impulsive. My daughter was grossed out more than anything.

The best part of this curriculum is that it forces the kids to talk to their parents about sex. Just opening the door for communication is a huge benefit.

To "parent" above, I did not feel that my child came home thinking that everyone is having sex or that they should. That's part of the parent communication aspect of the program where you can discuss what you feel is the best scenario or age to have sex.

Posted by You'll Never Get It
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:01 am

To Get It ( oh no you'll Never Get It ;)

You call a group of Asian people homophobic. Who knows if you are not praying at home yourself that your kids won't be gay or transgender in the future. Who knows if you are not a hypocrite. :)

Money talks! The money put in your personal pocket is for you to keep. It doesn't benifit the community. It actually hurts.

Posted by Longtime parent
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:01 am

"Yes, there are a lot of promiscuity types of teen girls and boys."

I'm happy that all of our students are getting non-judgemental, appropriate sex education at school. If anything, the problem is the opt-out which leaves sex education up to parents, pornography and the playground.

Posted by Longtime parent
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:03 am

Thank you, "You'll Never Get It". You're making the case for moving on much better than anyone else could.

Posted by You'll Never Get It
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:18 am

You are very welcome longtime parent. This can't happen without your efforts. So thank you very much too! :)

Posted by Former Jordan Parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 8, 2017 at 11:23 am

Fact based sex ed is very valuable. Kids develop at different rates and while there are many 7th graders (and older) have no interest in sex, many do. I know all of my kids had classmates that were sexually active in 7th and 8th grade. What happens in the high school bathrooms also happens in middle school, (not the assaults, but kissing, etc.) And according to one of my kids, there was a chlamydia outbreak in the 8th graders at Jordan this year. Knowledge is a good thing.

Posted by a concerned parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 8, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Health connected sex education= sex education. If you don't agree, you are anti-sex education
Health connected education is the best, if you ever doubt it and want to do a comparison, you are anti-LGTB, you are homophobic.

Unless you are sitting in HC board, you need some help with logic.

Posted by DZ
a resident of Fletcher Middle School
on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:27 pm

There are huge culture differences among people come from different parts of the world. And there are physical differences among them too. So I believe some of parents on both sides are whole heartily concerning the well being of their kids. But there are people, just want to push their agenda, not for the benefit of the kids, but for their ideological views. That is a shame, that makes the material not acceptable. It is a CA law. Really? I remember what an immigrate said, "when the law is not fair, we should fight them!"

Posted by Mom
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:52 pm

My 7th grade son told me about the education and it was cringeworthy, very blunt information, but is important for the children to learn. Most parents do not communicate with their children, much less, sex ed. My only concern is that they spoke about anal sex, without telling them it can be dangerous due to feces. I suppose they wanted to include other sexual preferences, but by teaching them, will it lead the students to think that anal is as normal as vaginal? Will it pressure girls to accept anal sex? They shouldn't mention anal sex as if it's normal behavior.

Posted by @mom
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 9, 2017 at 6:45 am

@mom -

As one student said at a board meeting, "gay sex is the only kind of sex gay men can have."
I think the point of Health Connected is that they don't label anything as normal or not normal.
AND - they warn of the risks of all of it. That's why anal and oral were added to the conversation. Kids got the message that vaginal sex had risks so they began engaging in oral and anal under the impression that there were no risks associated with them. The requirements of the new law came about exactly for this reason. So students are aware of the risks of all behavior.

Posted by You'll Never Get It
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2017 at 8:08 am

The Health Connected program didn't specify any risk factors for oral and anal sex. Instead, there is only a table for "risk of pregnancy" and of course these two have no risks. That's how the "fact based" Health Connected program delivers the message.

Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2017 at 9:46 am

Perhaps there is a correlation between the increase in Title IX incidents and pushing explicit sexual education down to the six grade level. Remove parents from the process of raising their kids and then tell children that certain sex acts are cleaner and preferred (I won't repeat them here) and soon watch them appear in school bathrooms a few years later.

Then let the administration wring its hands in paralyzed contradiction while parents demand expulsion for protection of the victim and the philosophy of restorative discipline demands empathy and reinstatement for the perpetrator.

With such Liberal Progressive "clear thinking", no wonder we have such a mess.

Posted by Mom
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Jun 9, 2017 at 3:06 pm

@ @mom: I just asked my son. They told them there are STD risks but did not state the other risks such as:

"The anus is full of bacteria. Even if both partners do not have a sexually-transmitted infection or disease, bacteria normally in the anus can potentially infect the giving partner. Practicing vaginal sex after anal sex can also lead to vaginal and urinary tract infections."

"Most STDs are transferrable through the anus, some even more so, because the lining of the anus is much more thin and can be broken more easily if too much dry friction occurs"

It's irresponsible for them to fail to tell them all the risks!

Posted by Let's Work Together
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Receptive anal sex is much riskier for getting HIV. The bottom partner is 13 times more likely to get infected than the top.

Being a receptive partner during anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for getting HIV. The bottom’s risk of getting HIV is very high because the lining of the rectum is thin and may allow HIV to enter the body during anal sex.

In addition to HIV, a person can get other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea from anal sex without condoms. Even if a condom is used, some STDs can still be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact (like syphilis or herpes). One can also get hepatitis A, B, and C; parasites like Giardia and intestinal amoebas; and bacteria like Shigella, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli from anal sex without a condom because they’re transmitted through feces. Getting tested and treated for STDs reduces a person’s chances of getting or transmitting HIV through anal sex. If one has never had hepatitis A or B, there are vaccines to prevent them. A health care provider can make recommendations about vaccines.

Latex or polyurethane male condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and certain other STDs when used correctly from start to finish for each act of anal sex. People who report using condoms consistently reduced their risk of getting HIV through insertive anal sex with an HIV-positive partner, on average, by 63%, and receptive anal sex with an HIV-positive partner, on average, by 72%.

The content above is from Web Link

In introducing anal sex without sufficiently covering the risks involved, puts our youth's sexual health at risk. The content above is not age appropriate, and neither is introducing anal sex to children. A common sense approach is needed, and parents should not abdicate their responsibility to teach their children about healthy relationships & sex and the school district should not contribute to over sexualizing of our children in their attempt to get a free public education.

Another key piece of misinformation jeopardizing sexual health is the encouragement of using LARCs like the IUD, and a recent study linking them to increased STIs in our youth, because even though they are being taught, they are using condoms less. These "experts" don't know our kids, we do. Let's work together and get good quality information to our children - that will contribute to their sexual health, not mentally molest them.

Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2017 at 2:03 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by @Sanctimonious Poster
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

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