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Parents, School Leaders Debate Possible Changes To Sex Ed in Valley Schools

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Parent holds up sign requesting to keep the 'opt-in' option for sex education.

Tuesday night, The Clark County School District board held a hearing on sex education.

The 500-seat auditorium was filled at Las Vegas Academy, and tensions were high.

This was an informational hearing that the school board will use to take recommendations for possible legislative changes.

At issue, whether the current sex ed curriculum should be changed.

Currently, Sex Ed is an "opt in" process. Kids get a permission slip sent home that parents have to sign. Ninety-eight percent of kids do turn in slips, with a small number opting to stay out of those sex ed classes in 5th grade, 8th grade and high school.

But about 7,000 kids don't turn in permission slips at all. Those kids don't get sex ed, and they're the kids who might need it more.

The lack of parental involvement, even in turning in the slips, might indicate low parental involvement in general.

And among this population, some of the school trustees pointed out, might be parents who are predators, and whose children might really need to learn about who to talk to in these situations. Children in these situations might not even give their parent the permission slip.

Many parents and teachers argued that if 98 percent of people partipate in a program, it's a successful program, and it shouldn't be changed.

Support comes from

Teachers and staff also pointed out that not getting a permission slip alerts the school that these parents need to be followed up with, and that CCSD can turn this into even more parental outreach.

Parents also said that they are inundated with permission slips and notices from their kids' schools.

We get slips when pesticides are sprayed.

We get slips for field trips and band concerts and reminders of three-day weekends.

To them, it seems silly that something as important as sex education would suddenly cut the parents out, in terms of getting their permission.

Both school board members and parents also agreed that the solution might be some sort of hybrid program that involves technology.

Trustee Pamela Tew talked extensively about the benefits of blended learning - combining at home learning with classroom learning. This method gives parents the ability to sit next to their child at home as they are learning the sex-ed curriculum, and talk to them as they're hearing things that might make them uncomfortable.

The trustees also talked about somehow using technology to reach kids whose parents don't participate, but there were few specifics on that idea.

Also at issue Tuesday night were proposed changes to the curriculum.

CCSD put out a survey a few months ago in which many parents, teachers and community members agreed.

But parents at the meeting felt that community members shouldn't have been included in the survey - mostly because when survey results split, it was between parent answers and community answers, such as whether sex-ed curriculum should be changed at all.

The survey results can be found here.

The contention at the meeting boiled over a few times, especially when recent graduate Caitlyn Caruso spoke very bluntly and with graphic language about her rape when she was 13.

Caruso was hissed and booed. Parents and at least one school board trustee told her to leave.

Caitlyn said she doesn't blame the boy who raped her, believing he was as ignorant about what was happening as she was.

Her argument was that kids need to learn about consent at an early enough age that they know better before crossing the line.

Caitlyn's treatment, though, elicited a number of passionate responses from school board trustees who reminded people to be civil.

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