FREMONT — As school board members prepare to adopt a new sex education curriculum for seventh- and eighth-graders tonight, there have been rumblings that some trustees might be considering removing sex education altogether from the junior high schools.
After learning that the junior high sex education curriculum in place last year was not compliant with state law — based on a review by the Public Health Institute — the Fremont school board instructed the district's health and sex education advisory committee to look at new curricula.
Tonight, two of those curricula — one called "FLASH" and another called "Teen Talk" — will be forwarded to the board for possible adoption.
School districts are not required to provide sex education. But those that do are mandated to offer a comprehensive curriculum, meaning that the use of condoms and birth control must be taught in addition to abstinence.
This week, several people from the health and sex education advisory committee or the American Civil Liberties Union, which advocates for reproductive rights, said individuals who support an abstinence-only curriculum have been contacting school board members and asking them to do away with sex education.
Trustee Ivy Wu said Tuesday she has been bombarded with e-mails regarding this issue. Although she has questions about the district's legal obligations when it comes to sex education, she said she did not know why people are assuming the board will eliminate the curriculum altogether.
Wu, who tells her children to abstain from premarital sex, said, "I know that as a board member, I cannot impose my own personal beliefs on other people. ... I also understand that there are kids who are already sexually active. For these kids, ... they need to know the right way to protect themselves."
No committee member that The Argus contacted said she is pushing for sex education to be eliminated outright, but member Carol Zilli said she has shared with board members some of her concerns regarding the two curricula being considered for adoption.
"If a curriculum is not the best ... if it has dangerous ramifications, I see no harm in waiting until you get (a better one). That doesn't mean those of us who feel this way say 'Never, never, never' to sex ed. We're saying 'Quality, quality, quality,'" Zilli said.
Committee members voted 7-5, with two abstentions, when it came to the FLASH curriculum and 8-5, with one abstention, for Teen Talk, said Dennis Brown, director of secondary education for Fremont Unified.
However, according to committee member Lucienne Bouvier, an obstetrician/gynecologist who favors sex education, only about half the people on the advisory committee, which numbers 20, actually support either one of the curricula.