Two parents pushed back against the Millard school district’s pro-abstinence approach to sex education Monday, urging the school board to adopt a comprehensive approach like that of the Omaha Public Schools.

Millard board members are in the final stages of updating the district’s health education curriculum, based on a framework they adopted in 2016.

The framework avoids discussion of gender identity, orientation and other topics that sparked heated debate after they were added to OPS’s new curriculum.

The parents called Millard’s approach outdated and said the board should adopt an evidence-based, medically accurate curriculum.

Board President Mike Pate said the pro-abstinence approach has worked for years and is accepted by the Millard community.

Millard’s update of its curriculum has lacked the contention of Omaha’s process. While thousands of people turned out for OPS’s public meetings on its new curriculum, Millard’s process has proceeded without an uproar.

“Our community is pretty active,” Pate said. “They’ll let us know if there’s something they don’t agree with.”

The parents addressed the board at its regular meeting.

Jennifer Day, who said she’s a mother of two boys in the district, said research shows that comprehensive sex education is far more effective in preventing sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancy than a pro-abstinence curriculum.

Day said the curriculum should be inclusive.

“Far too many LBGTQ youth sit in classrooms where their teachers and textbooks fail to appropriately address their experiences,” she said.

The other parent, Jenna Lopez, said abstinence programs “leave our children in the dark.”

Such programs are “value based” rather than based on medical evidence, Lopez said.

“No other course of study do we compromise on teaching the facts and evidence-based approaches because of the opinions and values of certain parents (and) families,” she said.

OPS’s curriculum, implemented in the 2016-17 school year, encourages abstinence but assumes that some high school kids will have sex. It teaches about contraception, including a condom demonstration in 10th grade. OPS students are taught in school about abortion, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Critics of the OPS curriculum said it sends mixed messages about sex, encourages the sexualization of children and promotes unhealthy behaviors and attitudes.

Millard officials are assembling a list of proposed instructional materials that reflect their approach. The textbooks, videos and other materials will be available for public inspection April 12 and 17, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Ron Witt Support Services Center, 13737 Industrial Road.

After that, district staff will recommend materials to the school board for adoption.

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joe.dejka@owh.com, 402-444-1077

Joe covers education for The World-Herald, focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school. Phone: 402-444-1077.

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