Sept 29 2022 – Beck Salgado – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The recently approved sex ed curriculum in Wauwatosa Schools was once again thrust into the spotlight Tuesday after board member Michael Meier made a rare motion to rescind the curriculum just over a month after it was approved, 6-1, by the board.
Meier also accused the board of violating the Wisconsin open meetings law by using survey data that was not public to help inform the board’s decision.
Meier’s motion died for lack of a second, however, and no action was taken.
Meier, who cast the only vote against the new curriculum in August, said he made the new motion in response to feedback from parents who did not feel the district’s option to opt-out of the curriculum was adequate.
Meier’s motion said, in part, “The approval actions of the full board was a result of unlawful, secret advisory process and should be rescinded.”
He was referring to a survey designed to gauge public feedback on the curriculum. After the survey was made available, officials learned that it had been shared on forums outside Wauwatosa. This meant that the School Board had to correct the results to be emblematic of just the Wauwatosa respondents.
With no action being taken by the board, the curriculum will continue as scheduled, with training for teachers starting Nov. 8. As for students, sixth- and 10th-graders will start the new curriculum in late November, while other grades will start courses in April and May.
The board denied Meier’s claims and the district’s attorney, Lori Lubinsky, assured the public that the board received all the data that was available. Later in the meeting, some board members suggested Meier was working to polarize the board with the claim.
“I have a really hard time when unidentified board members are being accused of illegal activity,” said board member Jessica Willis. “It’s really hard for me to even track and work on policy instruction when there isn’t trust among the board. Quite frankly, I think that issue needs to be resolved.”
What the Wauwatosa School District’s approved sex education curriculum entails
The curriculum was created by an internal committee and external committee and involved teachers, health care professionals, caregivers, parents, students and a local clergy member. They used Wisconsin state statutes, Department of Public Instruction standards and National Sex Education standards as a foundation for the new curriculum.
For elementary schools, updates to the curriculum will start as early as kindergarten, including added lessons on defining gender, gender roles, identifying medically proper names of body parts and learning about consent in an everyday context. It will also add picture books that present more diverse backgrounds.
By eighth grade, middle schoolers will learn about different gender identities, sexual orientations, sexual activities and how social relationships are influenced by all of those things.
By high school, students will learn about abuse in relationships, safe sex, analyzing information on social media and a more thorough understanding of sexual orientation, gender and other social identities.
The committees strived to create a curriculum that would be acceptable to the whole community. A poll seeking community feedback showed that 64.5% of respondents strongly agreed with the curriculum.
The school district provides parents with both the option to opt-out of the curriculum as a whole or opt-out of specific parts of the curriculum. More details on the grade-by-grade outlook can be found at bit.ly/TosaHumanGrowthandDevelopment.