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Updates to sex ed put on hold

School board members say students’ safety and health are first priorities, but await new standards before making changes.

June 07, 2008|By Daniel Tedford

A majority of Newport-Mesa Unified School District school board members would like to see more sex education taught in schools, but all of the board members are waiting to see new education standards before doing anything, school board officials said.

Sex education has been on the school district’s radar following the release of new eduction standards.

Also released were the findings of an audit by Planned Parenthood that highlighted the fact Newport-Mesa doesn’t teach comprehensive sex education and rated its program a 59 out of 100, largely based on the district’s health textbook.

School board members Walt Davenport, Karen Yelsey and Dana Black openly supported expanding Newport-Mesa’s current program, which teaches about HIV/AIDS and STD prevention in its health program but doesn’t teach comprehensive sex education.

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“Obviously, the responsibility lies at home; but that doesn’t always happen, and we need to make sure these kids have enough information as we have to offer them,” Yelsey said. “[The purpose is] to keep them safe. That is what we are looking for — to keep them safe.”

School board President Martha Fluor said she supports providing more information to students, but said she will follow the lead of the community, if there is a definitive stance one way or another.

School board member Michael Collier was the lone voice in favor of keeping the current curriculum, saying the schools should act only as a supplement to parent’s education at home.

“We wouldn’t have issues [saying] that more sex education is needed if people were taking care of the things they have to take care of,” Collier said. “I am always basically in favor of whatever the family does. If it supports the family it is a good thing; if it doesn’t support the family, it is a bad thing.”

Efforts to reach school board member David Brooks were unsuccessful, and board member Judy Franco declined to stake a position, saying she should would wait for the district’s review of the new education standards handed down about a month ago that includes sex education.

All the school board members who responded said they would be subject to any changes in the state’s education code and would abide by those standards.

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