Roaring Fork District board meeting raises more questions about student health curriculum
The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education’s Tuesday meeting in Carbondale prompted more public comment regarding a proposed new student health curriculum.
The curriculum, which focuses on providing students the opportunity to expand their physical and personal wellness, social and emotional wellness and prevention and risk management also includes language supporting the needs and inclusivity of gender-expansive and LGBTQ+ students in the district.
That and aspects of the sex education piece of the curriculum has drawn the attention of several parents, both Tuesday and during the initial presentation last month. In an overview of the proposal, Chief of Student and Family Services Anna Cole explained that the curriculum provides the opportunity for students to:
- Ask any questions they have about issues such as puberty, sex, reproduction and relationships.
- Receive complete, age-appropriate and medically-accurate information about sexuality.
- Explore issues that interest them related to their sexual development.
- Develop the skills necessary to form healthy friendships and, later, healthy romantic partnerships.
- Have support from caring adults who respect, affirm and celebrate them for who they are.
On Tuesday, Cole shared more information regarding the scope and sequence of learning for students grades from kindergarten through 12th grade.
“I know that everyone in this room is here because they care deeply about their children and their safety,” Cole said. “If we are going to teach this we have to do it well, with an approved curriculum and well-trained teachers.”
The draft highlights what topics would be discussed with students dependent on their grade:
- Grades K-4: Personal safety; healthy relationships; basic anatomy/physiology.
- Grades 5-6: Personal safety; identity/healthy relationships; anatomy/physiology; puberty
- Grades 7-8: Personal safety/online safety; identity/healthy relationships
- Grades 9-12: Personal safety; identity; puberty/adolescent development; pregnancy/reproduction; sexually transmitted diseases; healthy relationships; sexual orientation/behavior/identity
A program that would pilot throughout Roaring Fork Schools beginning in the 2023-24 school year, several members of the public who spoke during Tuesday’s meeting, including some parents, opposed the health curriculum proposal.
“This new sex education curriculum and agenda makes me ask the question, what is the department of education trying to train our kids to be?” Carbondale resident Deanna Janckila said. “It seems that the sex education program wants to indoctrinate an entire generation to reject their parents’ values.”
While the proposal does include an opt-out for families unwilling to have their students participate in the program, families such as those of Roaring Fork resident Angela Hands don’t believe the option would be held to the extent some Roaring Fork families want it to.
“I want to reiterate that the opt out options do not work,” Hands said. “This year, my husband and I have made it very clear to school administrators and teachers what topics we want our children to opt out of as they don’t align with our values and beliefs. Multiple times our schools have failed to remove our kids from those classrooms and field trips.”
The student health curriculum discussion is scheduled to continue at the next scheduled school board meeting, set for 6 p.m. May 24 at the Carbondale District Office.
Another topic of conversation during Tuesday’s board meeting centered around the district’s planned Meadowood housing project architect and framing package approval.
The plan to build 50 units along Meadowood Drive near Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale —which would be in addition to the existing 124 units the district already has available for teachers and staff — required board approval for two contractual items before proceeding with construction.
The two items, which amount to $3.8 million for contractors, were approved after months of talks regarding the project and its role in helping find and retain teachers throughout the valley for the coming years.
Post Independent education and sports reporter Taylor Cramer can be reached at 970-384-9108 or email@example.com
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