Sex education survey results revealed to Clark County School Board

The 23-year-old woman wept as she described being molested by her uncle as a 9-year-old.

She told the Clark County School Board her story to stress the importance of sex education, including teaching the difference between good and bad touching to elementary school students.

“I was molested in the fourth grade a whole year before I was taught sex education in the fifth grade,” the woman said through tears.

She explained how she could not immediately tell her mother what happened because she lacked a full understanding.

It was a sobering moment at Thursday’s Clark County School District meeting as board members learned the results of a sex education survey conducted over the past few months.

The district is considering curriculum changes to sex education. Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said the survey is part of the process to review and possibly update the curriculum.

The 436-page survey, which is available on the district’s website, itself drew criticism by some who said parent answers should have been given more weight than responses from other groups.

Others were pleased with the survey that showed support for a broad sex education curriculum.

The survey counted results from 4,843 respondents, the bulk of whom took an online survey. Of the total respondents, 1,937, or 40 percent, were parents. The remaining respondents were district staff members, community members or other people.

While a total of 49 questions were asked, the survey results for the 49th question — who is best qualified to teach sex education — were lost due to a programming error.

The survey covered topics such as sexting, sexual orientation, cyber bullying, sexually transmitted infections and statutory rape. Questions about those and other topics were asked regarding sex education for elementary school students and secondary school students.

The differences in the results were stark, as the survey found respondents mostly did not support bringing up topics such as sexual orientation or how to obtain contraception with elementary school students, but favored doing so for secondary school students.

For instance, when asked if sex education for elementary students should include sexual orientation, the majority of those surveyed said no.

When asked the same question regarding secondary school students, the majority of those surveyed said yes. However, a breakdown showed about 57 percent of parents who answered that question said no.

Dozens spoke during the meeting regarding the survey.

Jose Bettencourt said sexual orientation and gender issues needed to be taught to students at a younger age. He said he came to terms with his own sexual identity by the second grade, but what he was taught in school had him questioning “myself, my self-worth and my very existence.”

A number of parents expressed concern that their survey results were given the same weight as those respondents who do not have children in the school system.

Parent Cindy McMurray was bothered that she and her husband had to share a survey and were not allowed to fill one out separately. McMurray also questioned why respondents without children in school carried the same weight as someone who does have a child in school.

At least one student spoke and asked that students be allowed to take a survey so they can play a role in designing the sex education curriculum.

Board member Carolyn Edwards also brought up her concern that there was a low turnout of respondents from the Latino community.

The process for changing sex education in Clark County schools became mired in controversy when, in mid-September, the district held a series of community input meetings over a week, allowing only those with invitations to attend. Media also were barred.

At the meetings, the district presented a 77-page curriculum guideline created by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States that, if instituted, would have drastically changed sex education in Clark County schools.

Parents and community members were outraged by the secrecy of the process, prompting an apology by the superintendent and a resetting of the process.

Starting over, the district circulated a survey to all district parents in late October, seeking input on the sex education curriculum. Seven public input meetings were also held in November and December.

Contact Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe