Mesa parents 'learn' sex ed before their teens attend class

Parents preview Mesa's sex education curriculum.

MESA, Ariz. - Sex isn't exactly the easiest topic to talk about with your teenager. Soon though, an entire group of incoming high school freshmen will sit in a Mesa classroom and learn about the Birds and the Bees.

"Their knowledge has really changed over the years," Larry Clouse said before starting his 30th year as a sex ed teacher in the Mesa Public Schools.

Every August, the district invites parents of incoming freshman to learn Clouse's curriculum, but it's not really his.

"We're not allowed to discuss abortion, birth control, homosexuality and masturbation,” Clouse said. “We can just define them. Because our values may be different than your values."

Neighboring districts like Gilbert and Tempe have dealt with recent debates over how sex education is taught in school. Gilbert actually edited a mention of abortion in an honors biology text book.

Clouse has found it's important to stick to the state guidelines. He says the point of this meeting is to let parents know the types of things they will be teaching so there are no surprises.

"I think it's something that's helped Mesa stay out of problems,” he said. “Raising questions and having a big controversy."

There's no controversy at this year's meeting, and it didn't seem like any of the two dozen parents who attended left unhappy.

"Just disappointed there weren't more parents here," Emily Judd said on her way out. Judd feels like these are issues her and other parents’ children should be taught.

"I'm here not only to educate my children, but to educate myself," Judd said.

Sex ed is not required in Arizona schools and the program in Mesa is "opt in" only, which means parents have to sign off before their child can take the course.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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