East Lansing Schools update sex education materials

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Sex education for East Lansing grades four through six could soon be updated from the 2010 version of “Puberty: The Wonder Years” to 2015.

Mary Ellen Vrbanac, district sex education director, explained the plan at the Feb. 27 school board meeting.“There isn’t a significant difference between the two,” said Vrbanac. “With feedback from teachers and from students for the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade curriculum, some of the lessons have been reordered and some of the lessons have been shifted to other grade levels.”

Vrbanac explaining the new version to the school board

Anastasia Niforos

Vrbanac explaining the new version to the school board

Vrbanac said the 2015 edition offers a lot of good resources.

“One of the things that I do is I look for resources for parents and I was really happy to have some updated resources that we can pass along for parents. One of the things that is very strong in the curriculum is having a home-school connection since we know that the most effective way for students to learn is at home, at school and combined.”

Erin Graham, academic and technology chair, said she thinks the updates will be important because they are focused on being more inclusive.

“I do know that this curriculum has been done for several years,” said Graham. “I think it will make it less heteronormative and it was talked about using gender neutral names and I think that will be critical moving forward.”

Alice Dreger, who has a son at East Lansing High School, has been calling attention for two years to the selling of this curriculum.

Dreger has a son that attends East Lansing High School

Anastasia Niforos

Dreger has a son that attends East Lansing High School

“The person who writes and sells the curriculum is a woman named Wendy Sellers. She also works for something called Eaton RESA which is basically like a public agency that supports a bunch of the local schools and in that capacity she’s a consultant who comes to our school and advises us on which curriculum we should be using.”

Dreger said the district purchased the curriculum even though there is a conflict of interest at hand. Dreger said she was not commenting on the quality of the curriculum, but it should never be the case that someone taxpayers are paying to advise the district about curricula should also selling on of them.

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