Sex education has become a hot topic in Southern Arizona, specifically in Tucson. A new program called the “Family Life Curriculum” has been brought to the attention of many students and parents in the area, however not all of the responses have been positive. The Tucson Unified School District has taken almost four years to agree upon the proposed curriculum, however on September 10, 2019, the administrative board decided they would take yet another year to refine it.
This opt-in program aims to educate students from fourth grade through highschool on topics not traditionally spoken about in school. These topics include LGBTQ communities, gender neutral language, nontraditional families, healthy relationships, and consent. The last time the Sex Education program was updated in the school system was in 2006, and since then a lot has changed.
Being that same sex marriage was only legalized in 2015, it can be assumed that this is out of date. Currently in schools, teachers are not permitted to discuss LGBTQ+ communities and how they fit into the topic of sexual education. Despite this, many parents are not in support of this update.
During the meeting to vote on this new curriculum, many people were found protesting outside as they watched the meeting from a monitor. At one point, Governing Board President Adelita Grijalva addressed the crowd, saying they would not continue the meeting unless they calmed down. The Family Life Curriculum was not well received by many Mexican Americans and those with various religious beliefs. This program goes against numerous aspects of both demographics beliefs and cultures. While these views are valid, there is another aspect that must be addressed. Not only will the program educate students on societal topics in sexual education, but medical safety as well. As the program is opt-in, the Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo, plans to host a mock run of the program to show parents and students exactly what the curriculum entails. If this does not convince parents and students to participate in the course, there is an alternative program for them to follow.
Although we will not know the outcome on this new curriculum, we do know how parents and students feel about the situation currently. 13 year old Santi Ceballos is one of those students. From Tucson, Arizona, Santi was one of two students to challenge the rules set in place against teachers speaking about LGBTQ+ by signing onto a lawsuit. Since coming out as non-bianary in 2017, they have gone through many difficult times when it comes to their sexuality and being gender nonconforming. However, due to the results of this lawsuit, they have found hope for the future of acceptance in diversity.
While there is still so much more progress to be made, this small step has the potential to change the lives of many students. Despite the delay in the Family Life Curriculum being implemented into Tucson school districts, there has been a push to make the students environments less heteronormative, and more accepting.
PRR Writer, Leah Kist