Washoe County Passes LGBTQ+ Inclusive Sex Ed. Lesson

Sep 11, 2019

The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees has approved an added lesson on sexual orientation and gender identity to the recently revised sexual education curriculum. KUNR’s Stephanie Serrano has this report.

The board met Tuesday night at district headquarters in Reno. As people settled into their seats, the main room and two overflow rooms were open to the community. Over 50 people submitted public comment, including students, parents and medical providers. Community members shared two perspectives throughout the evening. Some of those opposed to the lesson discussed their faith-based traditions, while those in favor often stated fact-based information.

The curriculum hasn’t been updated since 2003. Lesson 1 will be added to an updated curriculum that was approved in June, which now includes lessons on consent, healthy relationships and conversations around a student’s digital footprint.

Lesson 1 is now inviting LGBTQ+ students to be a part of classroom discussions. The lesson breaks down terminology on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also clarifies that the use of conversion therapy is illegal in Nevada.

Tanja Hayes is a parent who attended the meeting. She says this will make an impact not only for students, but for families as a whole.

“It’s not just about the LGBTQ youth in the schools, but the teachers and staff and parents because kids might be falling into the straight terminology, but they might have gay parents and they might want to hear that their parents are okay,” Hayes said. “It's okay to have two moms or two dads or whatever the situation might be, so not just thinking about the kids but all of those adults in our community as well.”

Jahahi Mazariego was another attendee who believes there is still a lot of work to do and expressed her concerns regarding the unique challenges facing LGBTQ+ minorities.

“Well, it still doesn't say that we're all inclusive. A lot of the statistics that the school district presented didn't provide information about how does people of color come out of these statistics? Do they receive more violence?” Mazariego said. “So, that just means we need to continue to push forward and agitate those people in power."

The curriculum will be taught during high school health courses to students who have parental approval. Rochelle Proctor, the sexual education coordinator for the district, says the next step is to train teachers and implement the curriculum as soon as possible.

“I can't make promises that it'll be taught by this semester for those kids that are in health for the first semester, but it will then be a part of second semester,” Proctor said.

The sex education advisory comittee will now look at updating curriculums for both elementary and middle schools.