Fourteen people turned out Thursday night to inspect the textbooks and videos proposed for teaching sex education and health classes in the Millard Public Schools.

Although the district’s public review session had a weak turnout, there were some strong opinions.

“Compared to OPS’s curriculum, it’s refreshing to see what Millard’s going towards, specifically in the sex education,” said Catherine Steinbock, who was representing Nebraskans for Founders’ Values.

When the Omaha Public Schools updated their sex education curriculum, Nebraskans for Founders’ Values argued for a conservative, abstinence-based approach.

Jenna Lopez, who favors comprehensive sex education over Millard’s pro-abstinence approach, was not so impressed with the materials.

“What I’m seeing is only validating my concerns,” Lopez said. “What I have seen so far on contraception is nothing, other than maybe a list.”

The curriculum adoption is in the final stages because school board members have already adopted a framework to guide health education instruction across the district.

The framework outlines the topics to be covered in prekindergarten through high school health classes, including the human growth and development classes that cover sex education in the upper grades.

The board reaffirmed its commitment to teaching what the district describes as a “pro-abstinence” sex education curriculum.

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

Under the framework, Millard health teachers would not discuss sexual identity, orientation or abortion.

The review session held at the Ron Witt Support Services Center was the first of two opportunities this month to examine the materials used to teach the framework.

Another is scheduled for April 17 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the center.

Examining all the texts, videos and online resources is virtually impossible during a 90-minute review session.

But one can get a taste of the material.

The Pearson Health textbook relates abstinence skills, such as setting clear limits, communicating your limits, avoiding high pressure situations and asserting yourself.

Millard School Board member Amanda McGill Johnson attended the session.

She said she hopes to get feedback, to see if people have concerns now that they’ve actually seen the curriculum.

“I’ll be very interested to see what lingering concerns might still exist,” McGill Johnson said.

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

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