District plans middle school sex ed

Fonda-Fultonville School District residents voiced a range of support — or lack thereof — Wednesday

Fonda-Fultonville School District residents voiced a range of support — or lack thereof — Wednesday for a plan to add sex education to the middle school’s curriculum.

The district is honing the curriculum, intended to provide age-appropriate information for students in grades five through eight starting next school year. But administrators said they want to start classroom presentations for seventh- and eighth-graders this spring because of a sense of urgency sparked by student surveys in which high school responses described sexual behavior and activities that made administrators blush.

“I don’t need to tell you that kids are becoming sexually active earlier and earlier,” middle school Principal Elizabeth A. Donovan said at the onset of Wednesday’s update on the curriculum.

Donovan said the initiative is not meant to displace but rather to supplement information parents are giving to their children.

“Our goal is not at all to try to take over those conversations with your children,” Donovan said.

According to an outline provided to parents Wednesday night by school administrators, students in seventh and eighth grade would learn about the repercussions of sexual activity, various types of birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and the components of healthy relationships.

Instructors covering decision-making would outline the risks of being sexually active and the benefits of abstinence; the section on birth control would focus on three types — hormonal, behavioral and barrier.

The sexually transmitted diseases lecture would cover the different types, how they are contracted and how they are prevented.

The section on healthy relationships would concentrate on distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy aspects of relationships.

During discussion that followed the presentation, some parents expressed surprise that sex education currently doesn’t exist at the Fonda-Fultonville School District.

Others were upset that the spring classes will be conducted by an educator from Planned Parenthood, an organization they characterized as the main provider of abortions.

The district is devising a method by which parents can opt out of the sex education instruction for their youngsters or not have their children participate in particular segments of the curriculum.

Parent Robert Lopez said he was skeptical about bringing Planned Parenthood into the school and said he foresees a “slippery slope” leading to the authorization of birth control distribution to middle school students.

“I have strong feelings rooted in my faith,” Lopez said.

He said he intends to opt out of the curriculum instruction for his children.

Parent Pauline O’Neil said she always believed there was at least some form of sex education already being taught.

“I’m shocked, I always thought that my child was being taught, on some level, about this,” O’Neil said.

She said she has good communication with her youngster, but said she intends to have her child participate in the entire curriculum.

Administrators said they will be sending information about the new curriculum to parents, including option permission forms. Those forms will also be made available on the district’s Web site.

Categories: Schenectady County

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