WORCESTER. Mass. - In a 5 - 2 vote, the Worcester School Committee approved the use of a comprehensive sex education curriculum for grades K to 12.
"We know that giving students information that is researched and medically accurate makes all the difference," said Tracy O'Connell Novick, a committee member in favor the the curriculum.
"Isn't there room for compromise? Isn't there room to look at what is in the best interest of children?," asked John Monfredo, a committee member who voted against the curriculum.
The Rights, Respect and Responsibility [RRR] curriculum teaches students about topics like consent, gender identity and sexual orientation, something earlier programs never really did. It introduced different topics at different grade levels.
"It works the same way it would if we had a K to 12 English curriculum. You teach particular things to kindergarteners, particular things to high schoolers," said O'Connell Novick.
Members who support the program said its crucial to offer resources and talk about these issues because students have specifically asked for them.
"We know very frequently LGBTQIA students have been lacking for information and, not just information, but lacking support," said O'Connell Novick.
It creates another trusting relationship in many students' lives.
"It always references the family as the first place students learn anything, but we know it is really crucial for students to have other trusted adults they can go to," said O'Connell Novick.
But Monfredo, who voted against it, said the curriculum encourages students to have sex.
"This program to me is a 'how to have sex manual' and there's no mention of psychological and emotional impact of sexual activities," said Monfredo.
Mondredo is in favor of a new Sex Ed plan, especially in the older grades. But said this one is inappropriate and offensive for younger learners.
"I want to make sure we are giving students factual information and it has to medically accurate," Monfredo said." Let the kid ask questions."
The district is working to add more health teachers and block out time dedicated to this learning. The curriculum will be taught in school beginning this fall.