TAMPA, Fla. — Parents of some Hillsborough County 7th grade students are expressing concern over an upcoming lesson on sexual health.
The lesson is intended to be taught as part of science class.
Jacalyn Muir said she was alerted to the lesson after receiving an email from her daughter’s principal.
She says at first glance, the lesson was what she would expect in a sexual education class with information about the reproductive system and preventing pregnancy. It was only when she looked further and clicked through rounds of PowerPoint slides and handouts she found content that concerned her.
What You Need To Know
- Some Hillsborough parents upset over 7th grade lesson
- Lesson is intended to be taught as part of science class
- Parent said one part of lesson has a scenario of teens watching porn, drinking, and the teen receiving pressure from his friends to have sex
In one handout, a scenario plays out between Leah and Malik, who are two fictional characters. The scenario references Malik watching porn, drinking, and the teen receiving pressure from his friends to have sex with his girlfriend.
“If you read the directions the teacher is supposed to hand it out and have the children get into groups and discuss this,” Muir said. “I don’t want my 7th grader discussing being drunk, watching porn, and having sex with her peers.”
Muir says the most concerning parts of the lesson were buried in PowerPoint slides and hard to find. She said had she not kept digging she would have missed much of it.
“I think we should have an opt in, not an opt out,” she said. “How many kids went home and gave their parents the opt-out form? How many busy parents had time to find that email? Even if they found that email, if they didn’t dig all the way down and do multiple clicks and read through 122 slides they would just trust that everything is okay.”
Parents were given the option to review the content and opt their student out of the lesson. Muir believes that parents should be required to opt their students in to lessons like these.
A spokesperson for Hillsborough County Schools states that they are working through all sex education curriculum with recent legislation in mind to make any necessary changes.
According to the district, parents are notified in English and Spanish and given the curriculum via email in October. Then they are reminded again and given a chance to opt out weeks before it starts in the spring.
In a statement, the district references that the curriculum was carefully constructed and meets all state standards.
“The worksheet referenced is part of our district’s sexual health curriculum for 7th graders which was created with input from many stakeholders including parents, teachers, district personnel, doctors, and community members,” the statement from the district read. “The objective in this exercise is to teach students how pregnancy occurs and to analyze the influences on decision-making by discussing scenarios from two points of view.
“Following the lesson, students were encouraged to bring the worksheet home to discuss with parents or a trusted adult. The goal is for students to make healthy decisions based on the many outside influences they face every day. Parents have access to all sexual education materials to review on our website prior to the class taking place. A parent always has the choice to opt out if they do not want their child to take the lesson. These sexual education classes are taught to state standards.”
In an FAQ regarding sexual education classes for 7th to 9th grade students, the 7th grade curriculum is set to cover topics including abstinence, reproductive anatomy, pregnancy prevention, HIV and STDs.