Parents and school board officials in Elmbrook, Wisconsin recently protested the inclusion of oral sex as a topic in the district’s middle school human growth curriculum.
The curriculum scheduled to be used for the current school year included new materials, for use with sixth and seventh grade students, that define oral sex and the risks of this activity. The modifications reflect recommendations from the police department, which pointed out five years ago that middle school students in a nearby school district were engaging in oral sex.1
Though the board reviewed this new curriculum three years ago, it neither approved nor rejected the specific sections that mention oral sex. In spite of this, materials prepared for the current school year included this topic.
Some parents raised concerns about whether the material is appropriate for all students and whether there is enough emphasis on abstinence. One parent with a daughter in middle school explained that she fears that discussion of oral sex moves the school away from “protecting the innocence of the majority of the students who might not need that [information].”2
Other community members, however, feel differently. One community member explained that while he exercised his right to “opt-out” of the human growth classes when his three children were in school during the 1970s and 1980s, he believes the district should bring up oral sex in today’s health classes because students are engaging in it. Discussion should be limited, he cautioned, with the goal being “to get kids to realize the risks of the behavior.”3
The Curriculum and Instruction Director of a neighboring district agreed that oral sex is a reality of middle school. She explained that students opt for this behavior because many felt that “there were no dangers in [oral sex]” and that they “didn’t think it counted.” Her district, unlike the majority in the area, has included a middle school discussion of sexual contact, including oral sex, since 1999.4
In addition to being apprehensive about the new content, several parents and board members expressed their concern that the established process for review was not followed. Wisconsin has no state-approved sexuality education curriculum, instead, decisions are left up to individual school districts. Districts are required, however, to have curricula reviewed by a committee consisting of parents, teachers, students, clergy, and others every three years. The Superintendent apologized to the board and concerned parents for including the new materials without the board’s specific approval.5
Due to the lack of initial approval, the board voted to drop the planned changes, and the district will continue teaching the curriculum that has been in place for the past three years. The curriculum review committee is being reconstituted, and is expected to report its recommendations for the K-12 human growth curriculum by mid-January 2008.6
SIECUS will continue to monitor this situation.
- Lisa Sink, “Schools try to balance morals, sex education,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 23 September 2007, accessed 24 September 2007, <www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=666103>.
- Lisa Sink, “Elmbrook shelves sex-ed revisions,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12 September 2007, accessed 17 September 2007, <www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=661663>.
- Sink, “Schools try to balance morals, sex education.”
- 5 Sink, “Elmbrook shelves sex-ed revisions.”