Sex education conversation delay angers Clark County School Board member

Months after Clark County School District leaders apologized for mishandling prospective changes to the sex education curriculum, the unexpected cancellation of a School Board meeting to talk about related policy modifications left at least one board member fuming.

At the demand of District F Trustee Carolyn Edwards, a long time supporter of amending the district’s sex education policies to make them more comprehensive, the agenda for the board’s Thursday’s conference consisted of an item to reevaluate the curriculum modifications. An extra program item allowed for conversation on whether trustees support the removal of a state required requiring a parent signature for students to enroll in a sex education course.

Neither item needed, and even discussed, a vote or main action.

Still, district leaders agreed Monday to cancel the conference, stressed that just talking about those questionable topics throughout summer break would persuade critics that the board deliberately set up an argument at a time when moms and dads ran out town for family trips.

“I’m furious,” said Edwards, who at a June 15 meeting requested the board revisit its sex education policy quickly. “This is an attempt to prevent a conversation on the products.

“I was asked to wait to bring these items back in September, but I will not wait.”

Not long after Edwards first signed up with the board in 2006, she unsuccessfully required a vote to amend the sex education curriculum.

Now, with different trustees on the board, she wants to raise the concern again but stated she could not forecast the result.

“I’m uncertain exactly what to anticipate this time,” Edwards stated today. “However we should, at the very least, take a vote to know where everybody stands.”

That probably will not happen up until September or October, according to board President Linda Young.

Young chose to cancel the meeting after finding out that Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, board counsel Mary Ann Miller and District E Trustee Patrice Tew, who serves as board liaison for the district’s Sex Education Advisory Committee, all would be absent.

Young recommended that, in the spirit of inclusion, it would be better to postpone conversation of sex education till families return home prior to the start of school this fall.

“There’s not constantly a lot of trust with the school district,” Young stated.

“So if you put something at the end of June, and people aren’t readily available to attend because of summertime occasions and activities,” she added, “we believed it would be more sensible and we would act a bit more sensitively if we could get a date and time when people would not unfairly accuse us of moving ahead without giving consideration to hectic schedules.”

Sex education in Clark County schools has stayed on the back burner since a public outcry last fall, when the district held a series of invitation-only neighborhood input meetings about possible modifications to the curriculum.

At the conferences, the district presented a 77-page curriculum guideline created by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States that, if instituted, would have drastically altered sex education in Clark County schools.

Father and mothers and neighborhood members were outraged by the privacy around the concern, prompting an apology from the superintendent and a resetting of the whole process.

Almost a year later, advocates of a more inclusive sex education policy were not kindlied the board had actually delayed the conversation another 3 months.

“Every day a conversation– and subsequently a choice– is postponed on this problem is another day that these students are being taught inaccurate, nonfactual info about sex education,” said Tod Story, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

His organization 2 years ago began a statewide evaluation of sex education products in each of the 17 school districts in Nevada.

In Clark County schools, the ACLU discovered a curriculum “swarming” with what it thinks about outdated and misleading material, including suggestions that urinating after sex can prevent pregnancy.

“That is clearly incorrect and egregious information for students to be taught,” stated Amy Rose, legal director for the ACLU, who sent out a copy of the testimonial products to each trustee and Skorkowsky. “I received no response from anybody.”

For her part, Young did not directly address concerns about what she considered troubling or worth fixing in the district’s sex education curriculum.

“Everything merits an evaluation after a particular time,” Young said.

“I would not say any part is wrong,” she added, “but most of our education processes and information needs to be examined.”

Contact Neal Morton at nmorton@reviewjournal.com!.?.! or 702-383-0279. Discover him on Twitter: @nealtmorton.

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