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Sex ed course to be re-evaluated
Portions of lessons deemed graphic and offensive
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A new sex education curriculum proposed for all elementary schoolers in Gainesville has caused too many parents and educators to blush, and the school board is prompting the district’s Sex and AIDS Review Committee to re-evaluate the elementary curriculum it approved this spring.

Gainesville City Board of Education member Sammy Smith said although the Family Life and Sexual Health, or F.L.A.S.H., curriculum has not yet been implemented in Gainesville elementary schools, concerned parents have objected loudly to the proposed content. He said he agrees with some parents who called some diagrams in the lessons too graphic and objected to other content regarding “stimulation.”

“This last one had some really, really offensive things,” Smith said. “... It had some offensive elements in the eyes of elementary students, things that are incomprehensible to them.”

The F.L.A.S.H. curriculum is a widely used program across the United States and provides information to students on human development and reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, self-respect, making good decisions and what constitutes sexual exploitation.

Smith suggested that elementary students be divided into lower and upper age groups to provide more age-appropriate content.

“My concern with any attempt in this subject matter is the appropriate understanding by all elementary students recognizing, of course, that they have vast differences in their ability to understand between first-graders and fifth-graders,” he said. “... Hopefully a fresh look can be done with a bit more sensitivity to elementary students.”

Already fourth- and fifth-graders, middle schoolers and high schoolers receive some sexual health education, said Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer. The fourth- and fifth-graders are separated by gender when the sexual reproduction content is delivered, she said.

The F.L.A.S.H. curriculum was introduced to the middle and high school this year, she said. Dyer said district educators have not yet determined a time line for when the F.L.A.S.H. curriculum will be introduced to the five elementary schools, and it is up to schools and their governing councils to determine if they will implement the program.

Dyer said all elementary schools do have a Good-Touch/Bad-Touch program in place that teaches children about inappropriate touching and molestation.

She said the new sexual health curriculum was prompted in part by Gainesville and Hall County’s high teen pregnancy rate. A 2007 study showed that about 80 teenage girls in Hall County became pregnant that year, Dyer said.

The school board also determined items to discuss with the local legislative delegation on Thursday. The board plans to discuss its need for the legislature to fund capital outlay, the Homeowner’s Tax Relief Grant and to consider how senior tax exemptions for citizens over 70 would impact the school system’s revenue.