Updated 3 years ago by Marnee Banks (KXLH-Helena)
The new health curriculum being considered in Helena is drawing praise from some parents and criticism from others - and an incredible amount of attention (read original story, July 8).
More than 500 residents attended Tuesday's school board meeting in order to weigh in on the controversy. The school board heard public comment for two hours, with one hour allotted for advocates, and one hour for opponents. Two rooms holding 150 people each were filled inside, and approximately 200 people filled the parking lot in order to hear a live broadcast of the meeting.
The proposed curriculum outlines sex education topics for each grade, K through 12. In the first grade, children would be taught that human beings can love people of the same gender; in second grade, kids are taught not to make fun of people by calling them "gay" or "queer." By fifth grade, they would be taught there are several types of intercourse, and by the sixth grade, the draft document states that students should, "Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration; using the penis, fingers, tongue or objects." Click here to read the entire document (PDF).
Some of the highlights during the meeting:
- School board member Trevor Wilkerson called for those opposed to the curriculum to raise their hand, at which point nearly the entire room erupted in applause. Board chair Michael O'Neil told Wilkerson that he was out of line and needed to follow protocol.
- Two proponents of the curriculum said that they have been subject to bullying in Helena schools because of their sexual orientation.
- One proponent told the school board, "Pull out and pray doesn't always work, we need this curriculum."
- Ron Waterman says too many young women are coming in pregnant; this shows the failure of the current health system.
The board will have one more reading of the curriculum, and allow another opportunity to publicly comment, before it makes a decision at its August meeting.