There is a concerted effort being led by the State Superintendent of Schools, Chris Reykdal, to overhaul the Washington State student sexual health education curriculum. Mr. Reykdal asked the legislature to sponsor legislation this last session that would create a Comprehensive Sexual Health Education program. My Reykdal testified in front of the legislature demanding a total revamp. Among the changes: teaching gender identity starting in kindergarten. He is urging school districts across the state to adopt his changes and, in so doing, implement significant changes.
Locally the Camas School District implemented a process to gauge the interest of some of their parents in expanding sex ed curriculum. This article walks through the process, the timing and what it took to get the district to peel back the layers of the onion so the public could see the process instead of keeping it hidden. Please take the time to review the materials and then decide how you feel and reach out to your local school district and share your thoughts.
There are a number of moving pieces. Following are the email’s and requests and responses so you can read for yourself. We’ll attempt to summarize the details as accurately as possible.
- On March 20, 2019 the Camas School District held an invitation only meeting for parents of students in the district. They sent a notice to parents announcing the meeting and stating that it was limited to 75 parents; that only parents with children in the district could attend; no press of other people whether they lived in or out of the district; and, to attend, people needed to register with the district. First come first attend. If someone told the district they could not attend the next person on the “approved” list was invited. The notice indicated that the district was seeking feedback from parents on the sex ed curriculum. They called the invitation only program a “Listening Post”.
- On March 24th we filed a public record request asking for any slides, a list of district personnel who attended the meeting as well as the questions and notes taken: Records Request Acknowledgment_ Richard Rylander_ SWWEducation_Mar_24_2019
- The meeting was held and a presentation was given. Here is the PowerPoint slide set used by the district personnel: 3-20-2019 Gender Identity Listening Post
- It took from March 24th to late June to get the materials. During that time we were promised the questions; topics and notes multiple times. When we didn’t receive them we were told:
- The notes were protected under an RCW code – we challenged and they backed off
- The notes would be made available after a review committee completed an assessment and made a recommendation – which ending up taking nearly 2 months…AND…the district did NOT supply the notes.
- Camas prepared a letter to all interested parties and sent that out: Health Standards Update – June 2019 We challenged the lack of detail and reminded them again that they had not fulfilled the Public Record Request
- Finally, in late June, they created a website and posted information on that site: http://www.camas.wednet.edu/about-csd/csd-at-a-glance/health-standards-sexual-health/ – Please note that they never supplied the questions and notes by table as we requested. They can only be found at the website they created especially to respond to our efforts.[Here is the published page incase it goes away: Camas_SexEd_Webpage_July_2019]
- We had a significant number of emails exchanges with the district. If you want to read them they are in this link: Camas_SD_Email_Correspondence_Sexual Health March-June 2019
We ended up sharing our materials with State House Representative Vicki Kraft who then visited with the Camas School District to review the materials and process.
Want to see the questions and notes the district took (assuming these are complete and accurate)? http://bit.ly/genderQandA
Here is a link to a presentation the Superintendent made to the school board on June 10th – http://www.camas.wednet.edu/Camas2016/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/06-10-19-Superintendents-Report.pdf
Notes and thoughts:
- The district used the meeting on March 20th as an “information” meeting and as such they claim it is not subject to the public meeting rules
- They took nearly 3 months to supply information and did everything possible to make it difficult. They appear to have believed that dragging things out would discourage us and we would stop…we did not
- Why did they attempt to hide the process and information?
- You can judge for yourself whether there is cause for concern about the curriculum or not…the issue for us is there lack of transparency and their attempts to hide information from the public, taxpayers and parents. This is NOT what we should expect from schools. We need to demand they be open and transparent and the Camas SD was not.
- Please note that they are using the FLASH curriculum in some of their grades and if Mr. Reykdal gets his way they will roll the FLASH curriculum out across the board. Not familiar with the FLASH Sex Ed Curriculum? You may want to read our reviews of the materials:
Your local school district may be different (we certainly hope so) but it may be prudent to keep an eye on them and ask (and if necessary demand) they supply complete information in a timely manner.
Do not take no for an answer. Follow up. Be persistent. Do not trust.