Back to square one for sex ed in Spokane Public Schools

The long-running community debate on what kids in Spokane should learn about sex has come full circle.

After spending nearly two school years considering new sexual ed curriculum for grades six through nine, Spokane Public Schools announced last week that it failed to approve any curriculum. Now, the district is back at square one.

"District staff have returned to step number one to identify a new set of proposed materials in alignment with the approval process," the district said.

The Human Growth and Development Citizens Advisory Committee, a district team that included community leaders from local agencies, spent the 2016-17 school year narrowing down sex ed curriculum in an effort to choose one that would align with state standards. They landed on Planned Parenthood's "Get Real" curriculum. But the School Board last June chose not to consider "Get Real" following community backlash from those upset that Planned Parenthood's name was attached.

That delayed discussion of a new sex ed curriculum until the fall. The Human Growth and Development Committee continued to discuss the best curriculum to adopt during meetings this school year. In September, the committee doubled down on "Get Real," but the district decided once again not to send the decision to the School Board for approval. District staff instead crafted curriculum using parts of various sex ed curriculum.

In May, the committee did not recommend the curriculum crafted by the district. Because of that, the district is starting over, now looking at a new curriculum called "3Rs": rights, respect and responsibility. The curriculum would allow the district to adjust lessons to "meet local interests" in contrast to previously considered curriculum materials, according to the district.

A district curriculum team will start evaluating lessons for sex ed within the next couple days. Materials recommended by that team will be forwarded to the Human Growth and Development Committee for consideration before that committee can forward its recommendation to district staff and, finally, to the School Board. The curriculum may be available during the 2018-19 school year, the district says.

Want more information? Go to one of the district's information updates on the topic. The first is Thursday, May 31, at Libby Center, 2900 E. First.

Screen on the Green @ University of Idaho

Thu., Aug. 6, Thu., Aug. 13, Sat., Aug. 22 and Thu., Aug. 27
  • or

About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione, born and raised in Spokane, is an Inlander staff writer covering education and social services in the Inland Northwest.