Left, Rebel Sleighter, 11-year-old student at La Paloma Academy, and Genesis Alegria, 11-year-old student at La Cima Middle School, chant their opinions during Tucson Unified School District's board meeting at Duffy Community Center 5145 E. 5th St., on Sept. 10. TUSD delayed the vote on their new Family Life Curriculum, which has become controversial.
A vote on changes to TUSD's curriculum that dictates how sex-ed is taught was delayed Tuesday night, following a contentious public hearing, to give more time to consider recommended changes by the superintendent.
Among the changes to the Family Life Curriculum is an emphasis on abstinence as the primary and most effective method of avoiding unplanned pregnancies and exposure to sexually transmitted infections.
Arizona law says any sex education curriculum must emphasize that abstinence is the only method for avoiding pregnancy that is 100% effective. The proposed curriculum for Tucson Unified School District currently features abstinence in two lessons.
Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo’s recommendations Tuesday would increase the focus on abstinence to six or seven lessons. For example, the high school lesson that deals with life management would incorporate abstinence.
“That’s not saying that I am promoting an abstinence-only curriculum,” Trujillo said at a news conference hours before the meeting. “I am promoting a well-rounded curriculum that presents a lot of options for contraception, but I am insisting that abstinence be at the top of that list.”
Other conditions Trujillo proposes for lessons TUSD families have to "opt-in" for students to take include:
• A district-wide “teach-in” for parents and students, to include workshops, breakout sessions and reviewing the Family Life lessons.
• An alternative curriculum for families who do not opt-in to the classes, which would be aligned with academic standards and publicly available.
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• Professional development and training for a lead educator at every school who will facilitate the Family Life instruction. The lessons must follow district policies that require an environment free of harassment and discrimination and prohibits educators from inserting their personal, political or religious beliefs into the instruction.
• Prohibiting the purchase of any outside curriculum materials and committing to transparency with any additional TUSD-developed materials.
• Each school to have a primary crisis contact, who is either a counselor or social worker, should any student get triggered by the content. That could include victims of abuse or students questioning their gender identity or gender expression.
• Formatting each grade’s curriculum to include a curriculum map, the concepts and themes and a brief summary of the major learning goals.
Danyelle joined the Star in 2018 and covers K-12 education. Previously, Danyelle wrote for the Tucson Weekly where she won several statewide awards including story of the year and first place investigative reporting.