Well, it's finally happened. Your kids have reached the age when sex education is taught in their health classes. But you're feeling a little anxious: Will the school respect the values you're teaching at home — as well as the emotional and developmental sensitivities of your child?
Sadly, some families have found reason for concern — parents in the Houston area recently discovered their schools were planning to use graphic, age-inappropriate materials to introduce kids to all manners of sexual experimentation.
If you're concerned about how your child's teachers will handle these topics, it's best to be proactive. You can do your homework by perusing your school's or school district's official website for topics related to sexuality, drugs and other issues you are concerned about.
It's also a good idea to search the school's online library catalog, if one is available, since libraries generally reflect and support the school's curriculum and are often used by teachers to supplement classroom instruction. If disturbing materials start appearing, it could be a sign to start asking questions.
If you do decide to talk to the school, here are some do's and don'ts for approaching teachers and administrators:
Do research your school's policies on a parent's right to be notified about controversial lessons or how to opt children out of certain subjects. This knowledge will better equip you to make astute points and ask the right questions during a meeting with the school.
Do follow the chain of command. Start first with the educator in charge of the subject area you're concerned about. Not only can jumping over people's heads hurt relationships that are beneficial for your family to maintain, but it can also result in wasted time. Oftentimes, parents will bring concerns directly to the school board or superintendent, only to be asked, "Did you start with the teacher? If not, come back when you have."
Don't work alone. Bring at least one other concerned parent with you as you meet with teachers and school officials. This provides you with a witness, not to mention much-needed moral support.
Don't just complain. Offer solutions. Be prepared to suggest alternative assignments or policy changes that can help address the problem.
As you work with your school, be encouraged in the knowledge that you're doing the right thing by asking questions. You not only have a constitutional right, but also a God-given responsibility to safeguard the innocence of your children.
Candi Cushman is the education analyst for Focus on the Family and the director of TrueTolerance.org.
Want suggested questions to ask your school about sex education? Read:
Sex Ed: How Do I Find Out What's Happening in the Classroom?
Copyright © 2012 by Focus on the Family. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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