CCSD draws fire from Moapa Valley parents over sex education

Hundreds of Moapa Valley residents had the chance to speak out on their own turf Thursday at a public input meeting about Clark County School District’s now-scrapped sex education curriculum changes.

Some parents were critical of the district hosting its input meetings without first presenting new proposed revisions. A survey was handed out at the beginning of the meeting, which was held at Moapa Valley High School in Overton.

“Is this survey just trying to make us feel better?” asked Wendy Mulcock, mother of five CCSD students. “Give us the survey after a new proposal so we have something to base our answers on.”

The district apologized in October after proposing new sex education curriculum that was drastically different from the district’s current abstinence-based system. The revisions would have broadened the scope of the classes to include gender identity and contraception. Meetings about the new curriculum were held in secret, and attendees had to be invited. Media were barred completely. After harsh community backlash, the district scrapped the proposed curriculum and started the process over with the community input meetings.

“Sometimes tolerance seems to be a one-way street,” Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said at the meeting in response to Assistant Superintendent Danielle Miller’s call for kindness and tolerance from parents at the meeting.

The crowd of about 300 parents cheered Hardy’s statement. Dozens went to the microphone, each limited to 60 seconds of speaking time.The microphone was turned off when the time limit was exceeded.

Some parents and teachers accused the district of “aligning itself with Planned Parenthood” in regard to some of the proposed changes that have now been scrapped.

School Board member Chris Garvey, who represents Moapa Valley residents, tried to reassure the frustrated crowd and reminded them that the old proposal is off the table and the process has started over. “I want to assure you, we are not starting there anymore.”

Thursday’s public input meeting was one of seven scheduled up to Nov. 18. School Board trustees will review the public input in December and January.

Lindsey Dalley, vice president of the Community Education Advisory Board, accused the district Thursday of moving its focus from its self-proclaimed transparency to “control and inequality.”

The changes under consideration would have made sex education in the nation’s fifth-largest school district a “comprehensive” sexuality model including education on lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people, which breaks from the district’s long-used approach that relies heavily on the promotion of abstinence and only teaches about heterosexual relationships.

Some parents said they were OK with minor changes, such as adding information on sexting and pornography.

Anna Bush, a seventh-grader at Lyon Middle School in Overton, got emotional as she spoke against any changes at all to the current curriculum.

“It frightens me, thinking of my siblings learning this,” she said of the district’s initially proposed changes to sex education. “If kids really want to learn about this stuff, all they need to do is ask their mom and dad.”

Bush’s mother, Shannon Bush, agreed with her daughter. “She’s a smart girl. I’ll tell her what I know, and she’ll figure it out.”

“Our community members have a variety of thoughts and opinions to share regarding the district’s sex education curriculum and we want to hear them,” said district Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky in a Tuesday news release. “I’m hopeful that members of the public will participate in our upcoming meetings to have their voices heard. We need a sex education curriculum that meets the needs of our students, while respecting the values of our community.”

Thursday’s was the second input meeting. Five more meetings are scheduled through Nov. 18.

Contact reporter Annalise Little at alittle@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0391. Find her on Twitter: @annalisemlittle.

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