Last-minute appeals to tweak Millard’s updated sex education curriculum had little effect Monday.
Members of the Millard school board stayed firm, approving instructional materials for their pro-abstinence curriculum, the final step in a process that started more than 18 months ago.
The vote was 6-0 to adopt the textbooks, worksheets, videos and online resources for teaching health, which includes sex education in grades 5, 6 and 8 and in high school.
Board member Mike Kennedy said the board faced a “no-win scenario” in which critics on neither side would be completely happy.
“Does it serve the vast majority of the community? Yes,” Kennedy said. “Does it serve the needs and interests of all members of our community? The answer is no. But for those that it’s ‘no,’ it probably meets 80 to 90 percent of their need.”
Criticism came from the political left and right.
Six people, including members of the conservative Nebraskans for Founders’ Values, sought to cut some lessons involving gritty sexual scenarios and role-playing exercises.
Mark Bonkiewicz, the group’s executive director, stepped to the microphone and read a passage from the proposed curriculum materials that depicted a girl getting drunk and joining in an oral sex party.
“Doesn’t sound like abstinence-based to me,” he said.
Generally, however, the group members praised the school board for its approach and the materials, with the exception of the supplemental worksheets and exercises they thought went too far.
A representative of the LGBTQ advocacy group GLSEN expressed concern about the lack of information on gender identity and sexual orientation in the curriculum.
JohnCarl Denkovich said he was “extremely disappointed” that the curriculum was silent on those issues.
Addressing the needs of 80 percent of kids sounds great, he said, unless your kid is one of those not served.
District officials said there would be administrative support such as counselors in place to answer those questions or refer students to someone who can.
Denkovich said his organization is willing to help Millard make sure counselors and social workers are trained in LGBTQ issues.
Board member Amanda McGill Johnson joined in the majority vote, though she said she would have preferred to include gender identity and sexual orientation.
She said the materials are “as strong as they can be” and contain some positive points. She said the scenarios are a tool to help students make better choices.
“They are faced with some of these things, and the whole point is to try to get them to think through what they would do if they’re ever in a situation like that,” she said.
Essentially, Millard is staying the course on the pro-abstinence policy it first approved in 1992. There are no substantive changes to the curriculum, which was last updated in 2007. It does now include sexting and vaping.
Back then, concerns were only just emerging about sexting — the sending of sexually explicit photos or messages — and vaping — the inhalation of flavored vapors often laced with nicotine.
Millard sex ed classes will teach about contraception, pregnancy and disease, with an emphasis on abstinence. The classes will delve into good and bad relationships and breakups. Teachers won’t demonstrate how to use contraceptive methods — no condoms on fingers or bananas. Discussion of birth control methods will emphasize their limitations, to support the district’s pro-abstinence approach.
Millard typically updates curriculum every seven years, a schedule that would slate the next update for 2025.