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School Board sends sex-ed supplements back for more vetting

A classroom materials housekeeping measure gets tabled by Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board

School Board members in Fairbanks suspended a process to approve supplemental Sex Ed materials teachers might add to their classes. KUAC’s Robyne reports at the October 19, 2021 meeting, members sent the list of materials back for more vetting.

The board was supposed to review the materials this week and then take them up for approval on November 2nd. A comment period for parents opened up October 4th when about six links to the online materials were posted on the school district curriculum website.

  1. Comprehensive Sex Education and Sexual Health Website; Preview PDF
  2. Mama Doctor Jones Video
  3. Birth Control Options
  4. Contraception for Adolescents - Pediatrics
  5. How the Morning After Pill Works and Stops Pregnancy
  6. 10 Dating Safety Rules that Could Save Your Life

Chane Beam, Executive Director of Teaching & Learning, explained to the board Tuesday night, these materials were requested to be added to the routine sexual education curriculum.
The items that you have seen, I believe, came from two teachers, two teachers are looking to add to their supplemental and that's where that's coming from. So it doesn't mean that every teacher will be using all of these items by any means, just like the other supplemental items. Some teachers will use them, some don't.

Teachers across the district are allowed to pull in supplemental materials for other subjects within approved guidelines. But since 2016, health education materials get treated differently. It is now a legal requirement that any health materials or guest speakers addressing sexual education, human reproduction education, or human sexuality that be approved by the School Board prior to use.

Sex ed materials are different because of the law. And that's why we here today, because this is part of that process.

Beam said two requests were articles: one from the Cleveland Clinic about Birth Control Options and one from a parenting/health blog called “10 Dating Safety Rules that Could Save Your Life.”

One of the material requests was a 52-page middle school curriculum from a popular national teacher resource website.

But the other three were short videos, and the samples provided to the board and public to review, were posted on commercial platforms.

Board members were concerned that the videos would not be presented to students in isolation. Even if a teacher used a video from a reputable educational resource, children could access the movies later at home on their computers or phone.

The problem, says member April Smith, is students would likely find them on commercial platforms such as YouTube, where they see many advertisements and could easily click to related, but not necessarily appropriate, videos might be offered to the viewer adjacent to the one they are watching.

And we are telling our children, these are safe, educational places to go for information. And some of the information that you find in the peripheral of this information is highly inappropriate and is not creating a safe environment for our kids.

The board discussed the option of having the administration vet the materials.

Board president Tim Doran asked Executive Director of Teaching & Leaming, Chane Beam if he would suspend the public review.

I think I can speak for the for the board that this is not ready for it to come forward at this time.

The materials are still posted as a part of the board’s Tuesday evening agenda, but they are no longer, for the time being, on the curriculum website.