Reform TUSD Sex Education: Include LGBTQ Community
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Comprehensive sexual education reform is necessary in our Arizona public schools, especially in Tucson.
The current sex education curriculum adopted by Tuscon Unified School District (TUSD) -- which oversees 89 public schools comprising of almost 50,000 students -- is outdated, exclusionary, and most of all, harmful.
Outdated in that the foundation of TUSD’s sex education curriculum is abstinence, which has been repeatedly been proven to be ineffective at reducing teenage sexual activity. In fact, 11 states in 2007 evaluated the impact of their abstinence programs and found that none had an impact on decreasing sexual activity. Further, almost $1.5 billion dollars goes to supporting abstinence-only sex education programs per year, even though they’ve been proven repeatedly to be ineffective.
Not only are taxpayer dollars going to ineffective programs, but the TUSD sex education policy does not promote choice. Rather, it promotes outdated societal norms that says women’s primary role is to rear children by encouraging childbirth over other options as stated in A.R.S. 15-115: “In view of the state’s strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion, no school district or charter school in this state may allow any presentation during instructional time or furnish any materials to pupils as part of any instruction that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.”
These types of statements that are embedded into significant policy represents outdated societal thinking and does not provide students with comprehensive and accurate information regarding sexual activity. Foremost, it denies students bodily autonomy since they are not being provided with enough information to make an informed decision regarding their sexual activity.
Further, the TUSD sex education curriculum is exclusionary in that it prohibits instructors from providing the youth LGBT community with information to practice healthy sexual activity. It even goes as far to deem homosexuality as an “alternative lifestyle,” representing ignorance sustained by legislation: “No district shall include in its course of study instruction which: 1. Promotes a homosexual life-style. 2. Portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style. 3. Suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”
By lacking information that pertains to maintaining safe sex practices for the LGBTQ community, it significantly disadvantages these students compared to their peers. It also alienates these students from their school community by using a sexual education curriculum that contains offensive language and is exclusionary.
These combined factors indicate that students that are enrolled in TUSD schools cannot be successful. Without comprehensive reform of the sex education curriculum in TUSD high schools, youth will continue to lack important information to maintain safe sex practices and keep good health.
Sign the petition if you agree that the sex education curriculum in TUSD high schools should be reformed to include information regarding the LGBTQ community and promotion of choice. We need to hold our community leaders accountable!
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