Update: After publication, Richfield Public Schools provided a press statement to The Post Millennial on the district's sexual education program, claiming that the information being shared by the media is "innacurate" and "misleading."
"There are no activities in the secondary curriculum that have students role-playing situations in front of the entire classroom," the statement reads. "There are two activities that ask students to work in pairs and/or small groups to practice negotiation and assertiveness skills through scripted interactions." The district cited the National Health Education Standards for using classroom time to "demonstrate and practice refusal, negotiation and collaboration skills," which RPS maintains "will enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks."
Activists and parents spoke out earlier this week against a sex-ed program used in a Minnesota school district that has the students role play as transgender or gay partners in sexual relationships.
"Parents are intentionally being deceived and misled about what their children are being taught," one speaker said at the Richfield School Board meeting on Monday.
"Programs like 3Rs are not effective," said activist Julie Quist, a Child Protection League board member. Another speaker noted that, "this type of teaching has no place in our schools."
According to Advocates for Youth, the 3Rs program focuses on rights, respect, and responsibility. "Advocates for Youth envisions a society that views sexuality as normal and healthy and treats young people as a valuable resource," the organization states on their website.
"While many sexuality education materials have addressed the needs of adolescents, Advocates for Youth realized that such education must begin much earlier," the website states. "This K-12 curriculum, therefore, is a collection of lesson plans on a wide range of topics including: self-understanding, family, growth and development, friendship, sexuality, life skills, and health promotion."
One lesson in particular that gained notoriety is called "Sexual Decision Making," and is targeted towards high school-aged teenagers.
In this lesson, "a student is asked to pretend to be a male named 'Morgan' who is 'very active' in his school's LGBTQ club, while another student is asked to be 'Terence,' a student who wants to have sex with 'Morgan' and is not publicly out as gay," according to Fox News.
"'Morgan' then outlines a plan for the two students to secretly meet, according to the curriculum, and they 'make a decision about whether to have sex,'" Fox News reported.
Lesson plans for grades K-12 include sections on STDs, understanding a minor’s reproductive rights, birth control, reproductive anatomy, sexual orientation, and gender identity. One section for teachers outlines how they should react if straight male students might "have a homophobic response" to the role playing.
"Should this happen in your class, it's important to stop what you are doing, notice the interaction, and ask for the class members to reflect on what's happening and why. Direct the students back to your class ground rules — and reinforce the agreement to be respectful — and that making homophobic comments is not respectful," the section said.
Quist said that such "explicit sexual education" does not reduce STDs or teen pregnancies, according to research.
"The Institute for Research and Evaluation conducted a comprehensive study on the effectiveness of programs such as this," said Quist. "Out of 60 school-based studies, no credible evidence of effectiveness was found for sustained reductions in teen pregnancy or STDs. There was no evidence of effectiveness for increasing consistent condom use. Failure rates included 88% failure to delay teen sexual initiation and 94% failure to reduce unprotected sex. 12% of these programs found significant negative effects on adolescent sexual health and/or risk behavior."
"The board does not actually know all the details of our curriculum, I think I can say that with confidence," Chair Tim Pollis said following pushback from speakers, adding that all content is "age appropriate" and was selected "in partnership with parents and guardians."
Pollis noted that the use of the program in the school district "is not new, it's been in place for a number of years," and "parents are provided opt-out information … in advance … no student is required to participate."