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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sex ed curriculum poised for adoption in Spokane schools

The Spokane Public Schools’ administration building pictured in 2017. The school district board will consider a new sex ed curriculum for ninth graders at a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Public Schools is on the verge of adopting a sex education curriculum for ninth-graders.

Based partly on the 3Rs (rights, respect and responsibility) lessons published last year by Advocates for Youth, the proposed curriculum “is a consistent, cohesive package that will meet every state standard, plus some things that Spokane said we wanted,” Heather Bybee, the district’s director of secondary curriculum, said Tuesday.

If adopted, the lessons would be implemented in the second semester of the current school year.

That deadline seemed problematic only a few months ago. In June 2017, the district’s Human Growth and Development Committee approved a curriculum known as “Get Real,” which was partly designed by Planned Parenthood.

It was derailed, and a monthslong impasse led to consideration of a revised curriculum drawing from different perspectives. However, the panel voted April 11 to continue studying all 94 lessons from the most recent proposal.

Three weeks later, on May 2, another committee meeting “did not result in a recommendation to move the proposed curriculum forward,” according to a district-issued letter.

At that point, the district regrouped. The committee received new draft materials in August.

“It’s definitely been a learning process,” Bybee said.

The summerlong delay was beneficial, she said.

“We got the committee to a healthy place, where they could listen to one another,” Bybee said. “People felt that they were being heard, and lesson by lesson, people being able to share their perspectives is what got us here.”

On a 9-2 vote, the committee approved the curriculum that will go to the board Wednesday night.

“Even those who didn’t vote yes appreciated the process,” Bybee said.

“We’ve spent the last six months meeting with community members from all different perspectives, getting their feedback and making adaptations with the health district to make sure that we are still following the objectives the state put forward (in 2016),” Bybee said.

Those standards include lessons in anatomy; reproduction and pregnancy; puberty and development; prevention; self-identity, and healthy relationships.

If the curriculum is approved by the board, the district plans to hold informational meetings at all high schools.