Student proposes changes to sex ed curriculum

Dana Baskett, Editor in Chief

Whether you’ve moved on from health class, or if you’re currently taking it, there is often much debate about how it should be taught, and what content should be covered. Park High Junior, Adelle Welch, has been working for a reform of the content students are taught specifically in sex ed.

Adelle Welch has been studying the current sex ed curriculum and thinks there are some changes to be made. Though she hasn’t taken health class at Park High, she’s sat in on multiple classes to gauge how classes are currently led. She thinks it’s important to include women’s health, access to contraception, gender studies, and LGBTQ+ in the studies.

The study started with a survey of the current students with the help of Gynecologist Denise Helin and Abbie Bandstra from ASPEN who helped set up questions to get a good response. The 65 students surveyed represented an equal sample across all grade levels, “We found that most students knew a lot about men’s and women’s bodies and STI’s. They didn’t know anything about contraception, a little bit about consent, and nothing at all about LGBTQ+,” she said.

With this information in mind, Welch went to the health teachers and spoke directly to them about what they currently teach, and she saw that the study was accurate to the current curriculum. She also said that, though she would have to look further into the current plans to see what should be kept, and what’s “not being helpful,” her plan isn’t to completely throw out current teachings.

Welch said she feels fortunate to have parents with whom she can discuss things openly, but “I also think that we should recognize, as a community, that not everybody does and that it’s the school’s place to offer that knowledge and that exploration where the home might not.” She also describes comprehensive sex ed as including abstinence. “It does include talking about abstinence but it’s definitely not the only thing that’s talked about.”
Welch worked with Park High administration and staff during her research and she remarked upon how they were all “wonderful to work with.” Principal Lynn Scalia invited her to help on the research team for planning the next curriculum. She even went as far as to say that if anyone wants to join her on this planning team, they are welcome to.

Though she is currently in the traveling school for three months, Welch says that “it’s definitely going to take a lot more work.” Welch has her eyes on lesson plans from Planned Parenthood that have exercises and teaching plans that cover all the topics she hoped to see covered in a new sex ed program.

Nancy Haglund, Freshman health and PE teacher, said she doesn’t mind student involvement in a new curriculum, but she and the local school board has the final say in what is taught. She also said that she doesn’t know how much can be changed because, “I teach a state-wide curriculum.”