MCPS officials have started to decide whether or not to change the county’s health education curriculum for middle-schoolers. The proposed changes include removing some scripted lessons and teaching sexual orientation to seventh grade classes instead of in eighth grade.
Currently, two lessons regarding homosexuality are delivered in middle schools using scripts to help teachers educate students without the risk of controversy.
“We had a couple scripted lessons in health this year. Even though [the lessons] were important, [the scripts] were really boring. a�� The lessons have potential, but they’re just not reaching it yet,” sophomore Jessica Fritz said.
According to a 2009 survey done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, eight out of 10 teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender have reported being verbally harassed at school within the past year because of their sexual orientation. Out of these numbers, almost half have reported being physically harassed.
The curriculum is supposed to help prevent bullying. Presently, the sexual orientation unit of the health curriculum is being taught to eighth graders, but the proposed curriculum moves the unit to seventh grade in recognition of the high harrassment.
Earle B. Wood MS health and physical education teacher Ryan Bingaman said, “I agree that kids this age should be made aware of and taught this topic, but I do question the maturity level in seventh graders.”
The Board of Education will take a final vote on the proposals June 17. If approved, teachers will receive professional development this summer.
“I think change is good. I think with the media and all of the laws passing regarding marriage equality, we need to base [the] curriculum around the changing times,” health teacher Katherine Gross said.