When a student from Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD) attended Tucson Unified School District’s public comment session in June of 2016 and promoted sex ed, we knew we had to find out what was going on up north. The fact that he identified himself as a Phoenix Union student plus knowing Creighton Schools feed into PUHSD, we unfortunately saw a pattern.
Early this summer we requested the opportunity to review PUHSD’s sex ed curriculum. They were nice enough to print a copy and leave it at their district office for pick-up. That was too good to be true. Unfortunately when we actually looked it over, the materials mainly covered Health and Physical Education, with a very small section related to their sex ed program. The materials left for us included just a few pages of the district’s overview of relationships and human sexuality.
Once again, we contacted the district requesting more information about the sex ed curriculum.
We were granted a meeting and told up front there would be three district administrators present. We were not sure why three employees working on the taxpayer dime would take time our of their busy schedules to watch someone reading a curriculum.
As promised, three administrators were present as the meeting started. Instead of having the curriculum on the table for review, the district’s representatives avoided presenting any materials, even the name of the sex ed curriculum in use. When asked repeatedly for the name of the curriculum and permission to look it over, the group avoided any specific answers. The Student Support representative would not tell us the name of the curriculum, saying PUHSD has compiled their own. When asked to see a copy of it, she wouldn’t present anything. She did say the district often has guest speakers from Maricopa County and the Arizona Department of Public Health. Those who have read previous articles we have written know her statement is a recipe for disaster as both government entities have links to Planned Parenthood and Company.
She went on to say they put their curriculum together based on state standards. That is good to hear; anyone who defers to national Siecus standards is lazy and is intent on harming children. She was asked why sex ed has to be taught when high school anatomy and physiology books thoroughly cover reproduction, including birth control. She answered that it is a state standard. When reminded sex ed is not an Arizona state standard, she replied that health is. That didn’t answer our question.
Phoenix Union’s PE and Health Content Specialist even jumped right to Arizona’s SB1009 law from 2012 when he joined the conversation.
Never have we come across an Arizona school administrator who can pull this law out of a hat. Either they were prepared for our visit or the administrator loves memorizing Arizona laws. Regardless, we are glad he is aware of the guidelines his district must follow.
Finally, after much persistence, the PE and Health Specialist left the room and quickly returned with a sex ed text book, workbook, and teacher’s manual. Why weren’t those materials on the table from the beginning of the meeting? They must have been nearby as he returned with them in just a few moments. It is amazing that three administrators cleared their calendars but yet seemed unprepared to offer the curriculum, which was the reason for the meeting. What are they hiding? Do they treat every taxpayer this way if there is interest in reviewing the district’s curriculum?
The textbooks used are called Sexuality and Responsibility by Holt Lifetime Health. The fastest way to get a feel for the material is to leaf through the teacher’s manual, so that was the starting point. All three administrators stared as we turned the pages. Phoenix Union High Schools might take a lesson from the professional and welcoming atmosphere of Tempe Elementary‘s administration.
The Specialist declared that sex ed in PUHSD is opt-out. We quickly reminded him that Arizona state law is opt-in only. He agreed and said parents have a choice. We said one more time the law is opt-in only. Did he simply make a mistake? Or is Phoenix Union opting students out of sex ed, which is not within state law?
One of Phoenix Union’s Governing Board members has made some statements herself which may reflect the opt-in vs. opt-out dilemma. Lela Alston is a long term board member who has been supported by, no surprise, Planned Parenthood. Here are a couple screenshots from her interview with Planned Parenthood.
Isn’t it nice that Ms. Alston has decided stressing abstinence is a problem? Why is it a problem? It is safe, organic, prevents pregnancy, prevents many STDs, and it is free. Why does she also feel it is PUHSD’s responsibility to teach contraception and HIV? Does she not trust the district’s parents?
Ms. Alston, the reason many parents don’t opt-in for sex ed is simply because they don’t want someone else handling private, personal family matters. And to assume the district won’t be stepping on toes for those who don’t opt-in is pretty cocky.
Based on the administrator’s comment that parents opt-out and the governing board member’s statement she doesn’t think they are stepping on toes, what exactly is PUHSD’s procedure for sex ed? Is it being taught in health class as part of the health class requirement without parental notification? Or are families signing an opt-in form before the teacher gets to the sex ed material AND before guest speakers are brought to the classroom? If parents are opting-in, are they told who the speaker will be, where they are from, and what materials they will be covering?
These are questions we would like to have asked the three administrators, but about five minutes into leafing through the teacher’s manual, the district’s curriculum director mentioned he didn’t want to hold up his other team members so the meeting would need to be wrapping up. It was very clear the sex ed materials that were finally presented were not meant to be reviewed by a taxpayer.
The administrative trio asked many times what exactly we were looking for. What might have been on their minds?