Battle Ground School Board tweaks Sexual Health Education policy

The change will allow high school elective sexual health courses to continue

BATTLE GROUND — The Battle Ground School Board voted 4-1 on Monday to amend their Sexual Health Education policy to allow elective courses at the high school grade levels.

Members of the Battle Ground School Board hear testimony on Comprehensive Sexual Health Curriculum at an Oct. 14 meeting. Photo by Mike Schultz
Members of the Battle Ground School Board hear testimony on Comprehensive Sexual Health Curriculum at an Oct. 14 meeting. Photo by Mike Schultz

The change comes following the board’s decision in October to eliminate requirements for sexual health education, following public backlash over proposals to implement a new Comprehensive Sexual Health curriculum. 

During their decision in October the board eliminated all sexual health education, outside of fifth-grade human growth and development, and lessons on HIV and AIDS, which are required by state law.

The change adopted on Monday, with Director Tina Lambert as the lone vote in opposition, will allow elective courses at the high school level for Human Development and Reproduction.

Rita Sanders, a spokesperson for the district, said these are classes that are already being taught as part of Advanced Placement courses, largely for students pursuing careers in the healthcare field.

“We have elective courses such as anatomy and physiology, for example, that touch on some of those sexual health components,” said Sanders. “And so this will allow us to continue teaching those courses.”

Sanders says the change was requested by teachers who were uncertain if the board’s new policy prohibited teaching the elective courses at the high school level. There had been some questions about the potential impact at the high school level during October’s meeting, and the board decided to come back and make the clarification.

“These were courses that we are already offering,” said Sanders. “And so to be clear that our policy does allow them to continue teaching those topics, we revised the policy.”

Washington is one of 21 states that currently do not have a mandate for Comprehensive Sexual Health curriculum. Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) of the 49th District plans to reintroduce legislation during the upcoming session to make CSE mandatory by the 2022-2023 school year.

The Battle Ground School District spent the better part of a year combing through sexual health curriculum to cobble together something that would meet requirements under the state’s Healthy Youth Act, while avoiding some of the more controversial parts of the FLASH curriculum developed by King County Public Health.

Supporters have said CSE curriculum helps to reduce incidents of bullying and suicide involving LGBTQ students, and leads to fewer teen pregnancies and STDs.

But opponents, including Rep. Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver), say the curriculum contains information which could be considered pornographic, and is intended to indoctrinate children into questioning their sexual identities.

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