Is it time to revisit the sex education policy in both Wake and the state?
As noted in today's article by Tommy Goldsmith, the fact that GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin has a pregnant 17-year-old daughter is reigniting the controversy over sex education in schools. Wake, like most of North Carolina's 115 school districts, follows the state's abstinence-until-marriage curriculum.
As longtime Wake residents know, sex education can be as controversial as student reassignment and year-round conversion. It's become a third rail that Wake school board members try to avoid.
Back in 2002, a proposal to revise Wake's sex education curriculum from the state's abstinence standard drew more than 600 people to a public hearing.
The board was split between those who wanted to keep the abstinence-only theme and those who wanted full comprehensive sex education. What emerged was a compromise.
The November 2002 compromise, which still only netted a 5-4 vote, saw the board agreeing to give more lessons about contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases and tolerance for gays and lesbians in grades seven through nine. Abstinence was still the standard in those grades.
The board also voted 5-4 to include comprehensive sex education in a new high school elective in grades 10-12.
But soon after the 2003 elections, then-board member Bill Fletcher, who was running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, pushed for the issue to be revisited. Fletcher was taking advantage of the fact that Ron Margiotta, a critic of the changes, had just defeated Jeff York, who had supported the revisions.
In January 2004, the board voted 5-3 to eliminate the 2002 revisions and strictly follow the state's curriculum. The board also voted to kill the new high school elective.
In a measure of how worn out they were, the board actually voted then to not revisit the issue for at least six months. They've since avoided the issue although it has been brought up by candidates during elections.
The board membership has changed since 2004. Even though it appears a majority of board members would back making sex revisions, they haven't made it an agenda topic.