From Gayle Ruzicka, President of Utah Eagle Forum:
I recently checked the website for the Utah Board of Education looking for up-dated information on Health education. I was shocked to find some very disturbing information. For years Utah law has allowed for spontaneous questions in sex education classes. I have always been concerned about this and I use to keep an eye on what was happening, but like all of us, I got busier and busier and quit checking. That was a mistake. Below is an email I sent to the State School Board members and Superintendent Dickson. I also sent a similar letter to several legislators and I hand delivered a packet of information to the Governor and the AG.
Now I think we all need to get involved and let the the Board know that there has to be changes and children need to be protected. You also need to contact your legislators 'they need to change the law and remove the language allowing spontaneous questions. Thursday, September 5, is the monthly State School Board meeting. We need to show up to testify and ask that they shut down the spontaneous questions and they also need to stop any programs that create secrecy in the classroom. Said here, stays here, should never be said in a public school classroom.
The school board meeting is at 9:00 am Thursday morning. The address is 250 E 500 S Salt Lake City.
If you want to speak send an email or call: Lorraine Austin
Utah State Board of Education
PO Box 144200
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Please bring a copy of your written testimony to leave with the board members. Even if you don't speak bring a statement for the Board members. it can be just one paragraph or 4 or 5 paragraphs. All they really need to know is you are concerned and you want changes. Alway include your name and contact information. Bring your friends with you.
If you can't make it to the meeting please send all of the Board members an email with your concerns. https://www.schools.utah.gov/board/utah/members. Click on each board member's name to get their contact information. Also contact your own legislator, House and Senate. It would be a good idea to send them emails even if you are at the Board meeting.
This is the email I sent to the State School Members with a copy to the Superintendent. It explains all of my concerns. Hopefully they are your concerns too.
Dear (School Board member's name)
As you know, Utah law allows teachers to answer spontaneous questions during sex education classes. I recently checked on the State Office of Education website under teacher’s resources to see what information was there for teachers about answering classroom questions. What I found was shocking. https://www.schools.utah.gov/file/03e62195-10a8-47af-810a-7234c7153008 I could not believe that teachers were having these very graphic discussions with Utah children. Parents would be shocked, and most would be angry. The worst part is that by the time the parents fine out, if they ever do, the children will already be damaged. As a member of the Utah State Board of Education it is your responsibility to protect Utah's students from exposure to this damaging information.
I was told that approximately 90% of the parents are allowing their children to participate in sex education classes because they think Utah teachers teach an abstinence-based curriculum. These allowed questions and the answers are as graphic as any Comprehensive Sex Education taught in the schools in California. Every parent should be given a copy of these questions along with the answers before they are asked to grant permission for their child to participate in sex education classes.
The guidelines say a teacher cannot answer a technique or “how to” question, yet in many cases by simply defining the individual sexual practice they are describing the "technique." Out of 29 questions under the heading of sex, only 4 times did the teacher say they could not answer that question, and yet most of the question are inappropriate. One of those 4 questions was, "How do you put on a condom?" The teacher said, "I am not permitted to answer. Please refer to the package instructions."
I assume that most of you have not read these questions and answers or you would be doing something about it. I find it embarrassing to have to send this email to you, but I do not know any other way to get this stopped because the children, as young as 13, could be discussing this in the classrooms. Who was responsible for compiling these questions and answers and putting them under the teacher's resources? The legislature should change this law. These spontaneous and inappropriate questions should not be allowed in the classroom. Children with questions should be encouraged to talk to their parents or, with parental permission, talk to the school nurse where the entire class will not be exposed to the individual student’s question.
One other concern. Many parents would not want their children to be taught about any of these alternative sexual practices, let alone that they are normal and acceptable.
There is another document under the teacher's resources that may explain why parents are not aware of these discussions in the classroom. This document is called "Ground Rules. Group Agreement/ Guidelines/ ROPES Activity. The first paragraph of this agreement states, "It is important when discussing topics surrounding sexual health to try and create an environment where everyone feels like they can voice their thoughts in a safe manner. These “ground rules” often take various forms, but the framework remains consistent."
This is the explanation for ROPES:
R: Respect, responsibility, keep it “real”, reporting
O: Open mind, opportunity, “Oops/Ouch”
P: Participating (with the right to “pass), personal questions, prepared
E: Empathy, education, excited, “escuchar” (Spanish for listen), ELMO
S: Said here, stays here (confidentially, unless…), safe space, self-aware, share, sense of humor
As you can see, S: says, "Said here, stays here." Children are agreeing to not share what they are talking about during this Q&A sharing time. They are having to choose between keeping the commitment they have made to their teacher and classmates to keep the conversation private versus talking to their own parents. Never should there be a pact made about keeping classroom secrets. There should never be classroom secrets.
Please do something to fix this very serious problem.
Gayle Ruzicka, President. Utah Eagle Forum
At no time may instruction be provided, including responses to spontaneous questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or encourage the violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or an adult.
Subsection (2)(e)(i) does not preclude an instructor from responding to a spontaneous question as long as the response is consistent with the provisions of this section
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