Sexual education is on the minds of the Board of Education.
John Foster, a health teacher at the school, presented a proposal to the board on Monday night to start teaching sex education to younger students — in fifth and sixth grades.
Currently, sex ed is visited briefly in fifth grade and then not brought up again until eighth grade. With adolescents hitting puberty at an earlier age, Foster said the administration felt that was too much of a gap, and that it would be worthwhile to cover more subjects among younger students.
Foster proposed that fifth-graders be taught about puberty, body image, and bullying, as well as be given an introduction to HIV and AIDS. In sixth grade, he proposes students learn more about puberty, the reproductive system, sexual orientation, abstinence and contraception.
Seventh grade would cover personal health, and then sex education would pick back up in eighth grade, with more in-depth topics, like teen pregnancy rates.
Board President Kathee Burke-Gonzalez had some reservations. "When I see contraception [being proposed] in sixth grade ... for my sensibilities, is going a little too far," she said. She requested more of a dialogue before the board moved forward.
Superintendent Michael Hartner suggested a committee be put together of staff, parents and administrators to discuss the proposal. "They can make a recommendation with what our community feels comfortable for kids knowing," he said.
As the curriculum stands, fifth graders are shown a PBS puberty video in the last semester and given a brief introduction to HIV and AIDs, which is one of the few recommendations from the state education department. Girls and boys see videos covering their own gender, but not the opposite sex, in a classroom led by a female and a male teacher respectively.
In eighth grade, sexual orientation, puberty and hormones and abstinence are covered. Contraception is also touched on briefly, Foster said.
State guidelines are very vague, Foster told the board, and a lot is left up to the district's discretion. The neighboring districts each teach sex education differently.
According to Foster, follows the Health Smart Series, starting in fifth grade. In , puberty, hormones, and the reproductive system are covered in sixth grade. Sag Harbor's Pierson School covers HIV and AIDs in middle school and teaches students about contraception in seventh grade.
Foster said parental notification would be made at the start of each school year and that parents would have the right to pull their children out of classes based on religious or cultural beliefs.
, who appeared before the board later to discuss the , said he felt the board shouldn't appoint a committee, but discuss it among themselves more. He said appointing a committee was "a slippery slope."