The Fairfax County School Board will consider recommendations from the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC) on lesson objectives and revisions for grades K-12 Emotional and Social Health and Human Growth and Development units, as new business at its board meeting on Thursday, May 21 with final School Board approval set for June 25.
The Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC) Committee is a standing citizen advisory committee that reviews the family life education curriculum on a regular basis and is comprised of school board appointees, community members, students, teachers, and administrators.
Parents and community members can submit comments on the Family Life Education curriculum revisions to FLEcomments@fcps.edu from May 21, 2015 through June 19, 2015. All comments will be shared with the School Board at the end of the comment period, prior to the vote scheduled for June 25, 2015.
The Virginia State Board of Education approved revised health standards of learning for K-10 in January 2015 with implementation for schools expected fall of 2015. Topics added to the health standards of learning include personal development (emotions/feelings, self-image, self-concept, personal characteristics, skills to work and play successfully in a community), healthy relationships (includes conflict resolution skills), respecting individual differences (disabilities, ethnicities, cultures), and mental health areas such as depression and suicide. These topics have been part of the FCPS FLE curriculum. Recommendations include moving these lessons out of FLE to meet new health standards of learning.
Yes. The topic of sexual orientation and gender identity will be taught exclusively within Family Life Education instruction and parents/guardians will continue to have the option to opt their child out. Additionally, human growth and development unit topics and grades 11 and 12 objectives for puberty, reproductive anatomy, fetal development, STIs, contraception, and abstinence will continue to remain as Family Life Education and parents/guardians will continue to have the option to opt their child out. Topics in the grades K-9 emotional and social health unit, objectives in grade 10 human growth and development, and objectives in grades 11 and 12 that relate to topics of abuse (good/touch bad/touch at primary levels to different types of abuse through upper elementary and secondary), dating violence, sexual assault, and teen sex trafficking (grades 6-12) will continue as FLE objectives and parents/guardians will continue to have the option to opt their child out.
No. FLECAC recommendations are shared annually with the school board in the spring. Adding the topic of sexual orientation and gender identity to grades 7 and 8 was discussed by the 2013-2014 FLE advisory committee. It was deemed prudent to revisit those recommendations this year in light of the need for a full scope and sequence review of all program objectives because of the predicted changes to the Virginia Department of Education Health Standards of Learning. The committee began their discussions and review of the full program in October 2014, not as a result of the recent school board vote.
Lessons currently in place that are being recommended to be moved out of FLE to meet new health standards of learning would be implemented as non-FLE instruction in fall 2015. Lessons will need to be written for new objectives and objectives with new topics. New FLE lessons needed for grades 7 and 8 will not be ready for fall 2015. Current lessons would continue in the interim. Any lesson changes would be communicated through the FCPS website, school communications, and through opt out forms. FLE lessons are available at each school. Full implementation for new content would be expected for fall 2016.
Parents and community members will have the opportunity to review and comment on the Family Life Education curriculum revisions. Comments can be submitted electronically May 21, 2015 through June 19, 2015.
The recommendation is presented as new business to the School Board at their meeting on May 21. The board will vote on the recommendation at its June 25 meeting.
In 1988, the State Board of Education established regulations regarding the Family Life Education (FLE) program. The Virginia Department of Education encouraged this program in response to a decade of rising teenage pregnancy rates, rising sexually transmitted infection rates, and the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In order to provide parents with alternatives, regulations require that an opt-out provision be included for parents to remove their child(ren) from any family life education lesson or all lessons at a particular grade level and that alternative, non-FLE lessons be available to students opted out of FLE lessons. In addition, school divisions are required to establish an advisory committee with broad community representation to review and make recommendations regarding the FLE content.
Fairfax County Public Schools' (FCPS) FLE program was fully implemented in 1990. FCPS requires FLE to be taught in grades K-12.
The elementary FLE program is taught by the regular classroom teacher. The early elementary program emphasizes the importance of families, distinction between good and bad touch, sources of help, and the importance of friendships.
Human sexuality is first introduced in grade four. In the Human Growth and Development unit, students learn about the male and female reproductive systems. Students view age-appropriate videos and learn the maturational process, changes which occur during puberty, and prenatal development. Students study the effects of peer pressure and begin to examine the influence of media on behavior and attitudes. Students begin an understanding of sexually transmitted infections in grade 5. The emotional and social health unit includes abuse prevention from good touch/bad touch in primary grades to types of abuse in upper elementary grades. Instruction for abuse prevention includes resources for help.
The FLE program for students in grades seven and eight is taught by health and physical education teachers. Building on information learned in late elementary school, students continue their study of basic anatomy and physiology as well as the physical, psychological, and social changes that occur during adolescence. Students are taught that abstinence from sexual activity is the only way to guarantee the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The emotional and social health unit includes instruction on abuse, internet predation, and healthy dating relationships.
Ninth graders participate in Family Life Education unit through their biology class for human growth and development and through health and physical education class for emotional and social health. In tenth grade, students study FLE during health class, while in eleventh and twelfth grades, the lessons are generally taught by social studies teachers.
During ninth and tenth grades, students continue building on their base of knowledge regarding human reproduction, sexually transmitted infection prevention, and the skills needed to make health decisions. In grades nine and ten, students learn how maturation affects adolescent development and learn to recognize the development of sexuality as a lifelong aspect of personality. Students are provided definitions for heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual, and transgender and that all persons deserve to be treated with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Students are taught that substance use/abuse affects decision making and that abstinence from sexual activity is the only way to guarantee the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The problem of dating abuse and violence is introduced and students are taught how to avoid dangerous situations and how to get help when it is needed.
During grades eleven and twelve, students continue their study of sexually transmitted infections and grade twelve has a lesson on Virginia laws that pertain to family and family life education topics.
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Health & Physical Education Coordinator
May 21, 2015