After more than a year of consideration, Battle Ground Public Schools is poised to move forward with the adoption of a sexual health curriculum featuring a blended set of lessons from state-recognized programs.
And yes, FLASH, or Family Life and Sexual Health, is one of them.
The north Clark County school district hit pause on its high school sex education curriculum adoption last year after pressure from families protesting its proposed adoption of High School FLASH, a well-regarded and widely adopted curriculum developed by Public Health — Seattle & King County. Conservative critics, including Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring, accused the school district of trying to undermine families and promote an “LGBTQ agenda.”
A committee of district staff including medical professionals, department chairs and curriculum directors have proposed a three-week, seven-unit program made up of material from FLASH, Positive Prevention Plus, the Centers for Disease Control and the district’s recently adopted general health textbook, “Essential Health.” The district also collected more than 2,000 responses to a community survey about the curriculum, which it used to guide the development of the curriculum.
“During the past year that we have reviewed and evaluated possible curricula for high school sexual health, it has been our goal to be intentionally thorough,” said Allison Tuchardt, Battle Ground Public Schools’ co-director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. “We recognize that this is a sensitive topic, and we want our families to know that medical accuracy and their responses to the community input survey were the filters through which we looked at every lesson. Medical accuracy and the survey were our guiding principles.”
State law does not require that school districts teach sexual health education, but if sex education is offered, it must be age-appropriate and scientifically accurate. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has cleared FLASH and Positive Prevention Plus for meeting those thresholds.
The proposed curriculum features lessons on the reproductive system, puberty, gender, sexual orientation, birth control, consent and healthy relationships. The school board is tentatively slated to adopt the curriculum Oct. 28. The curriculum could start rolling out in high school health classes starting Dec. 2.
Parents will have opportunities to review the curriculum prior to its adoption. Families can attend one of two review nights:
• 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the media center at Battle Ground High School, 300 W. Main St., Battle Ground.
• 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sept. 19 in the media center at Prairie High School, 11311 N.E. 119th St., Vancouver.
Parents are asked to RSVP through the district’s website, www.battlegroundps.org/curriculum-adoption/.
Parents can also review the material by scheduling an appointment beginning Monday by calling 360-885-5391. The district will also collect additional comments from families through its website starting Monday. The last day to provide comments is Oct. 4.
Per state law, parents will be notified 30 days prior to the teaching of sexual health about the opt-out process. Families can opt their children out of some or all of the sexual health lessons. Of the 1,928 people who answered a survey question about opting their children out of sexual health education, 921 said they intended to in full or in part.