LAWRENCE — The Lawrence school district will use national sexuality education standards rather than state standards this year.
The national standards are more comprehensive than state standards approved by the State Board of Education in 2006, according to Sarah Oatsvall, the district’s assistant director of teaching and learning.
The goal is to improve the students’ self-image, promote good behaviors and help students make good decisions, she said. The national standards include more information about birth control and sexual orientation, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/1kK9rk ).
The school board adopted the national standards last year and they are being implemented in all the district’s schools this year.
Parents can “opt-out” if they don’t want their children to participate in the sex education curriculum, and two or three students didn’t take part in a short portion of the curriculum last year, Oatsvall said. Those students left the class through a silent signal from the teacher so others would not know they were leaving, she said.
“No one knew the difference. Our teachers are good at handling that in a delicate way,” she said.
Vanessa Sanburn, vice president of the Lawrence school board, supports the district’s use of the national sexuality standards.
“These standards support curriculum that presents sexual development as a normal, natural, healthy part of human development,” she said.
Community groups also are working with the district. For example, Sue McDaneld, who coordinates family planning and sexually transmitted disease programs at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, will speak to eighth-graders about STDs and pregnancy prevention.
“I’m glad to see the school district addressing a broad range of health issues. It’s important to recognize this is a normal part of human life,” McDaneld said.