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Will Washoe Have A New Sex Ed. Curriculum?

Illustrated by Stephanie Serrano

Community members in Reno gathered this week at a local school to look over a proposed sexual education curriculum for high school students. KUNR’s Stephanie Serrano was there and has this report.

More than 100 residents hovered around tables in the school’s cafeteria, each labeled with a different lesson plan for them to review and discuss amongst each other. After, they were asked to take a digital survey about the proposed curriculum.

The SHARE program, or Sexual Health And Responsibility Education, in Washoe, hasn't been updated since 2003. Now, a committee of nine people is looking to make changes. That committee includes parents, along with a faith leader, a healthcare provider and educational professionals. The lessons they are recommending include worksheets and videos, like an animated dialogue that compares consent to serving someone a cup of tea.

Rochelle Proctor is in her second year as the program's coordinator but has been with the district for 22 years. She says one important lesson focuses on technology.

“We're looking at technology safety, their digital footprint, sexting, ramifications, both legally and emotionally, things like that, that our kids are involved in because they're always on some kind of smart device,” Proctor said.

The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees provided initial direction on the committee's tasks.

“When we came forward to the Board of Trustees early in the school year, we were given a directive from the board at that time that we needed to develop a curriculum that was more inclusive for our LGBTQ student population,” Proctor said.

More than half of the people who attended the preview were against the lesson that would discuss sexual identity and orientation. That includes Moses Moreno, who showed up with other members of his church, New Wine Christian Ministries.

“I think that consent has been taught subconsciously to other people and it's something we have been avoiding and it should be taught,” Moreno said. “The other topics, I would be lying if I told you that I know what else they're here about; the main reason I am here is for what I am against, which is same sex."

Andrea Thompson is a nurse practitioner in the area and moved to Reno three years ago to raise a family. She's been vocal during public comment.

“If you're struggling with your identity or not, if you are aware that there might be people that don't identify necessarily with their outside gender, maybe you can be more cognizant and respectful of those other people. [It] doesn't mean that you have to agree,” Thompson said.

Her background in the medical field has helped shape her views on sexual education.

“I can tell you from the medical standpoint that this is something that is so needed. We have young people who are getting pregnant at a very young age,” Thompson said. “I had a patient who was very young and had no idea that a baby was going to come out of her vagina, and we need to better arm our young people because we are doing them a disservice.”

The curriculum will go to the Board of Trustees in late May. They may approve all 6 lessons or ask the committee to keep working.

Stephanie Serrano (she/her/ella) is an award-winning multimedia bilingual journalist based in Reno, Nevada. Her reporting is powered by character-driven stories and is rooted in sound-rich audio. Her storytelling works to share the experiences of unserved communities in regards to education, race, affordable housing and sports.
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