Sequim School District has halted a sexual health education program after Superintendent Gary Neal deemed it not age-appropriate for students. Neal said that the Family Life and Sexual Health (FLASH) curriculum is on hold after several parents and staff said the material was neither age-appropriate nor completely scientifically accurate. “Some things discussed were not age-appropriate,” Neal said at the March 5 School Board meeting. “We’re putting the brakes on everything with FLASH.”
Neal said the district is putting a hold on the curriculum for the rest of the school year until the district can review the FLASH presentation used this year. “We are going to put a group together from the district to take a look at this,” he said. The next Sequim School Board meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday at the district boardroom, 533 N. Sequim Ave. The issue is not on the agenda.
Parent Jason Peterson, who has a daughter in sixth grade at Sequim Middle School, brought his concerns before the School Board last fall, again at a meeting on Feb. 20. He said the FLASH presentation given to his daughter and other sixth grade students was heavily weighed toward discussing gender identity rather than scientifically- or medically-based sexual health education.
Peterson said his daughter came home upset after she attended the FLASH presentation during a physical education class. “She felt she was being encouraged to question her own gender identity,” he said. Peterson viewed the presentation and felt that more than half of its content was geared toward discussing gender identity. He felt that should have been a much smaller percentage of the presentation. He also said his daughter felt uncomfortable with some of the language used during the presentation. “There was some really graphic language and she had never heard any of those terms until the class and she felt uncomfortable repeating them to me,” he said, “It was upsetting for her, and that’s what the big grievance was for a lot of parents.”
Lori Pritchard, who also has a child in the school district and spoke against the FLASH curriculum at the Feb. 20 board meeting, said it had changed over the years and in the past when it was taught, it was not an issue.
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