GIBSON CITY, Ill. (WCIA) — One central Illinois school district has decided to opt out of a new curriculum on sex education.
Districts across the state are currently deciding if they will implement the new curriculum, which includes the National Sex Education Standards as mandated by a new state law. The goal is teach students about things like sexual abuse, domestic violence and what healthy relationships look like.
The Illinois State Board of Education said students are most vulnerable to abuse between the ages of seven and 13, and officials said teaching kids these lessons before the age of nine can help protect them. They also said the new curriculum should also give students comprehensive knowledge about their bodies so they can make informed decisions about relationships, sexual health and pregnancy.
Districts are being given a choice on whether to implement the new curriculum or not. Superintendent Jeremy Darnell of Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Schools said his district has decided not to.
“We chose to take a more broad view through health education,” We believe that the curriculum that we are currently following works well for our school district and wanted to continue that path, and that was the vote of the Board of Education at this time. So we’ll continue to do that while the option is ours.”
Darnell said GCMS still has health courses; the difference is that the new national sex education standards are much more in-depth.
We also reached out to districts in Champaign, Coles, Ford, Macon, Sangamon and Vermilion Counties to see what their plans are. Many educators said they’re still figuring out plans for the school year and others have yet to respond.
Darnell said the larger districts have more to comb through when considering new curriculum, and that it’s easier for smaller districts to make a decision sooner.
Parents will still be able to opt their students out of sex education if a school does choose to follow the new curriculum. Schools are required to publish the name of the curriculum and let parents know two weeks before instruction starts.
The new law also requires ISBE to post resources for districts that choose to opt in to the new curriculum. Those resources can be found here.
ISBE said that research demonstrates that comprehensive personal health and safety instruction for students in all grades promotes self-confidence and prevents health problems, unintended pregnancy, and many forms of abuse and violence.