WORCESTER, Mass. — State Rep. Jim O'Day has been an advocate for comprehensive sex education in Worcester public schools for years. He says it's a public health issue.

"We trust our teachers to teach our kids how to read, how to do math, how to do biology," O'Day said. "We know how to present this curriculum."

Last week, the city's Board of Health offered its support for the comprehensive curriculum being taught in schools this year.

What You Need To Know

  • Worcester's Board of Health showed its support for the city's current comprehensive sex ed curriculum

  • Parents in support of the curriculum say it goes beyond sex and helps students with topics like relationships, bullying, and decision making

  • Other parents say the district wasn't transparent enough regarding the program, and too much information is being transmitted to students

In May, the School Committee backed the "Rights, Respect, Responsibility" program following years of back and forth on sex education. Some parents are on the same side as O'Day.

"I just would prefer that I know, even if we are having these conversations at home, a professional is making sure all the gaps are filled in," parent Cara Berg Powers said. The program, she added, goes beyond just talking about sex.

"It's about healthy friendships, relationships, decision making, consent," Berg Powers said. "And not just consent to sexual activity."

But at the meeting, the superintendent there are more than 3,000 students who have been opted out of the teachings by their parents. For parents like Shanel Soucy, there's too much information being taught.

"This is kind of giving kids a lot of information about a lot of various sex topics, sex activities, and then telling them it's kind of up to them to determine and navigate through those areas and make whatever they feel is the best decision for them," Soucy said.

Soucy​ said she wants more transparency from the district.

"The reality of it is most parents are not aware," Soucy said. "This is a matter of awareness. The disappointment in all of this is beyond what's in the curriculum."