Here’s a look at SB Unified’s controversial sexual health curriculum
Public comments, both supporting and opposing a new sex education program, were expressed Sept. 8 during a heated Santa Barbara Unified school board meeting.
Many complained that the Teen Talk curriculum is pornographic.
Despite the controversy, the board unanimously decided to adopt Teen Talk. Board Vice President Dr. Jacqueline Reid and Board President Laura Capps expressed they’d like teachers to review the information and modify the curriculum for the district.
“It is time to move forward with a curriculum that’s compliant, that’s data-driven,” Ms. Capps said. “There’s so much misinformation out there; we need to empower our students with correct information.”
An overview by the curriculum provider for Teen Talk is posted online. It gives a look at the 12-session curriculum.
Students are introduced to the course during the first session and are given a pre-test so instructors can assess their prior knowledge.
Then students get a summary about sexual anatomy and the reproduction cycle.
The third lesson discusses gender identities and sexual orientation through a presentation on the “Genderbread Person.” It teaches students that there’s a range of gender identities, gender expression and sexual orientation.
Many expressed appreciation that the curriculum is “non-judgmental” during the board meeting. Others felt uncomfortable discussing LGBTQ sexuality in a classroom.
The fourth lesson is about abstinence. It acknowledges abstinence as the only 100% effective method to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Next, students learn the types of birth control and look at their effectiveness. The sixth lesson explains pregnancy options and reinforces benefits of waiting until adulthood.
Teachers introduce sexually transmitted infections and their long-term effects. They outline contraceptives and their effectiveness at preventing these diseases while still promoting respect and dignity for those who live with STDs. The lesson also demonstrates condom application.
The eighth lesson answers questions about love and relationships. It helps students identify what a healthy relationship looks like and how it changes based on familial values and culture.
Then the class discusses body image. Students evaluate culture and media’s effect and its influence on sexuality.
Session 10 is about sexual assault. It identifies the right to refuse sex and what to do if assaulted. Teachers also explain how sexual exploitation can occur online.
Next, the curriculum culminates in a decision-making week. Students learn how to refuse sex and come up with a plan to protect sexual health.
Lesson 12 is a review and an evaluation of what the students learned.
“We’re not disregarding or taking away the responsibility of the parent,” board member Wendy Sims-Motem said. “If you feel so, then you have the right to say ‘This is not something my child should be exposed to,’ and we certainly want to respect that.”