Georgia Health (Sex Ed. ) Standards
How can parents and teachers help protect students from sexual abuse and discourage them from having sex before they are married? When I started teaching elementary school in 1988, to prevent sexual abuse we showed students drawings of boys and girls, pointing out the specific private areas where touching was not OK. It was simple, direct, and to the point. What else needs to be taught to elementary students to prevent sexual abuse? As they went through puberty, they learned about the changes in their body that would come as they matured, and we reminded them that touching in the private areas was reserved only for married couples. Language in the recent legislation has changed this point of view. Today, sex education requires an entire curriculum, and the second point, that sex is only for married couples, is de-emphasized. Recent legislation calls for annual age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education starting in kindergarten. This one additional sentence, added a few years ago, seeks to prevent assault, but not necessarily sex outside of marriage.
Tucked into the school counselor training bill, we find the new annual kindergarten through ninth grade sex education requirement. The State Board of Education is tasked with prescribing a minimum course of study in sex education and AIDS prevention which may be included as part of a course of study in comprehensive health education … as shall be determined by the state board. The state board shall also establish standards for its administration. The course shall include instruction concerning the legal consequences of parenthood, including, without being limited to, the legal obligation of both parents to support a child and legal penalties or restrictions upon failure to support a child, including, without being limited to, the possible suspension or revocation of a parent’s driver’s license and occupational or professional licenses. The course shall also include annual age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in kindergarten through grade 9. A manual setting out the details of such course of study shall be prepared and approved by the State School Superintendent in cooperation with the Department of Public Health, the State Board of Education, and such expert advisers as they may choose. (SB 401, 2017-2018, lines 109-124)
What role does the local school board play in determining what is taught in this required course? The local board shall use the course of study as described above or its equivalent, as approved by the State Board of Education. The local board is permitted to supplement and develop the exact approach of content areas of such minimum course of study with such specific curriculum standards as it may deem appropriate. Such standards shall include instruction relating to the handling of peer pressure, the promotion of high self-esteem, local community values, the legal consequences of parenthood, and abstinence from sexual active as an effective method of prevention of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. (lines 97-108)
Any local board of education which fails to comply shall not be eligible to receive any state funding under this article until such minimum course of study or its equivalent has been implemented. (lines 128-130)
What can citizens, parents, and teachers do? We can read the new health standards and compare them to the standards from 10 years ago. They are listed here below. We can also contact our State Board of Education representative who is required to hold a public meeting at least one a year. We can also contact our State School Superintendent.
We can review the curriculum materials and contact our local school board members.
We can also contact our representatives who voted for this legislation.
Enabling legislation: SB 401 from 2017-2018
Check your representative's voting record here.