Change in sex ed: district teachers to replace outside instructors

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Sex ed in Palo Alto public schools will be taught by district teachers, not instructors brought in from outside, said Superintendent Max McGee.

Results of a survey on lessons from the sex ed organization Health Connected showed overall support for the program from students and parents, despite some complaints from parents about their kids being exposed to graphic material before they were emotionally ready for it, McGee said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Students and parents said they wanted their own teachers to deliver the lessons rather than the instructors sent in by Health Connected, a nonprofit based in Redwood City.

Notification letters will be sent to parents in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Korean, allowing them to opt out of individual lessons. Forty-six percent of parents surveyed said they thought all the lessons in the Health Connected curriculum were important.

Several students and parents at Tuesday’s school board meeting spoke out in support of sex ed that includes an emphasis on sexual consent and material catered to gay and transgender students.

“What if your kid were gay? Shouldn’t they get the same level of inclusion and respect that they get today?” Jordan Middle School seventh-grader J.T. Barnett asked the board.

His mother, Jamie Barnett, spoke about the importance of kids learning about sexual health at an early age.

“We live in a society where one in four women will be assaulted on college campuses,” Barnett said.

Monta Vista High School grad Medha Asthana told the school board that many of her classmates from Cupertino have been sexually assaulted or questioned their sexuality or gender identity since high school.

“We had to leave our hometown in order to accept ourselves,” Asthana said. “Young people are ready for these conversations.”