Nevada’s Clark County School District Sticks with Opt-In Policy

On September 29, 2015, after months of delays, the Nevada Clark County School District Board of Trustees held a meeting to discuss adaptations to the county’s current “abstinence-focused” curriculum to include more information about sexual behavior, gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as changing the current parental opt-in policy to an opt-out policy. The heated meeting, following months of prior controversy previously reported by SIECUS, lasted more than six hours and was packed with hundreds of parents, students, and community members.

Immediately prior to the meeting, the Nevada Teen Health and Safety Coalition held a sex education "teach-in" demanding that the Clark County School District update its curriculum to include topics on gender identity and sexual orientation, consent, and birth control options. "A lot of the parents are afraid that the schools would be taking away their ability to teach," said coalition member Grace Daniels. "We want the schools to teach facts."

Most of the parents who attended the meeting were affiliated with the Power2Parent group, an organization opposed to changes to the current opt-in policy for sex education classes. Parent Brent Quist cited a protection for parental rights to "care for and control their kids." Other parents—and even some members of the board—referenced the Holocaust, cancer treatment and the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in defense of the current opt-in approach. Some advocates also booed and hissed at a recent high school graduate and rape survivor who attributed her traumatic experience to the shortfalls of the current sex education curriculum. At one point, one trustee made an emotional plea to the crowd to be respectful of each other. The crowd was urged to use their hands to show support rather than yell or cheer.

After listening to public comment, the school board decided not to instruct the advisory committee to reconsider the opt-in policy. The school board did approve changes that will add topics like the dangers of sexting and sexual cyberbullying to health education, however time ran out before they could address other topics. All remaining agenda items have been postponed for another special meeting of the board, not yet scheduled, for future community input.

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