Gwinnett residents voice concern over sex ed curriculum

Tamara Ashley from Gwinnett Citizens for Comprehensive Sex Education speaking to the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Thursday night. (Staff Photo: Trevor McNaboe)

Gwinnett County Board of Education members faced numerous complaints about a lack of a comprehensive sex education curriculum Thursday evening.

Dialogue between members of Gwinnett Citizens for Comprehensive Sex Education and BOE members began with eight residents speaking during the GCPS Public Forum session, taking place before the regularly scheduled monthly business meeting.

GCPS chairman Louise Radloff informed the public each speaker was allowed a total of two minutes to speak before the board. Many residents used that time to share their concerns on the shortcomings of the current sex ed program, Choosing the Best.

Mothers, fathers, medical experts and former students shared their viewpoints on the current system in place.

Teddy Murphy, a 2014 graduate from Brookwood High School, was in favor of a new comprehensive sex ed program.

“What we have right now is harmful for students; it is a waste of taxpayer money and does not belong anywhere near a public school,” Murphy said. “I’ve been through this curriculum and what I got was a lot of misinformation and it doesn’t really educate.”

GCCSE initially presented a request to change the sex education curriculum at a Gwinnett School Board meeting in June. In the time since, it has also presented its case to the GCPS Community Health Education Advisory Committee, the body that reviews sex ed curricula for Gwinnett schools.

Tamara Ashley from Gwinnett Citizens for Comprehensive Sex Education said there are things that can be improved with the sex ed curriculum.

“It was our hope that comprehensive sex ed would be adopted at this time,” Ashley said. “We would like to implore you to not renew any contract with Choosing the Best so it would allow the community to offer more input on what we would like to see in a sex ed curriculum for our county.”

A statement by Gwinnett County Public Schools said, “The Choosing the Best resources used in Gwinnett address the state requirement for abstinence-based human sexuality education. These materials — which also are used in Fulton, Cobb, Clayton, Forsyth, Marietta, Hall, and Fayette — are abstinence-centered not abstinence-only resources. Choosing the Best offers age-appropriate programs that provide information to help students prepare for a successful future. Topics include decision-making, understanding healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, avoiding sexual assault, sexual abuse, risks with sexting and alcohol use, the impact of teen pregnancy on achieving future goals, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, making the healthiest choices, and refusal skills.”

While a majority of residents addressing the board were in opposition of the current sex ed curriculum, one parent, Brenda Stoll, was in favor of the program.

“Gwinnett County uses Choosing the Best to protect the health of our students and it is done well,” Stoll said. “Our teens in Gwinnett have had consistently lower rates of STDs and pregnancy than those of the state of Georgia as a whole.”

GCPS said in a press release that at its most recent meeting, the CHEAC committee listened to a presentation from residents who presented changes to the current materials and reviewed the current Choosing the Best curriculum. Afterward, the committee overwhelmingly made a recommendationto stay with Choosing the Best.

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