The Alpine School Board is considering changing the district's sex education policy to include AIDS education in the curriculum.
Board members discussed the proposed policy during a meeting at district headquarters Tuesday. Parents can give their views on the policy during a public input session at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at Manila Elementary School in Pleasant Grove. The board will not vote on the policy until its next business meeting on Oct. 11.If the policy is approved, teachers will discuss several AIDS issues in class, depending on the grade level of the students. For instance, senior high school students will be told that condom use can prevent spread of the disease, but contraception will not be discussed. Third-graders will learn that it is relatively difficult to contract AIDS and that scientists are working to discover a cure for the disease. Students in grades 9-12 will be told how AIDS is transmitted and how it can be treated and prevented.
Alpine Superintendent Steven Baugh said parents will be asked to sign consent forms before their children will be allowed to participate in AIDS discussions.
"In all of this, the teaching of morality will be a necessary, important part. The catalyst that's prompting us to review the policy is the AIDS education issue and the AIDS education curriculum that is being mandated by the state," he said. "I think that as our community looks at (the policy), there will be wide acceptance of the standards in this document."
State School Board guidelines suggest schools should help students make rational decisions about sex, and Alpine intends to do that by teaching morality along with its AIDS education, Baugh said.
Board members' initial reaction to the policy was positive. Blake Evans said the wording of the policy is a good indication that it was carefully put together.
"You can tell there's been a lot of research that's gone into this," he said. "I think that we're trying to involve the parents, and I think sometimes they feel left out."
"It is the goal of the Alpine School District to complement and supplement those standards established in the home as they relate to the family life and sex education of their children, including the principle of morality," the policy says. "AIDS education shall be taught in the context of the Healthy Lifestyle Curriculum adopted by the Utah State Board of Education."
The policy says programs may be held separately for boys and girls, and may include special speakers and suitable films. It encourages administrators to involve parents in the selection of qualified speakers and encourages parents to attend and participate.
Parents will be able to review the lesson plan when teachers plan sex education lectures, Baugh said. They will have the option of pulling their children out of the classroom without the students being penalized academically.
Board member Linda Campbell said it's important that students begin getting AIDS information immediately.
"I would really like to see the board act quickly so the teachers can get on with this curriculum," she said.