Article by: Toni McDonald and Ben Tomsett | ODT
Outraged parents of Central Southland College pupils are demanding explanations about why they were not told about the type of sexual education their children were taught at the school.
The school, though, says it consults its community every two years about health education and aims to provide accessible, accurate, inclusive, and positive information to pupils.
More than 100 people turned up at a meeting in Winton on Wednesday to discuss the issues and communication around the school’s curriculum.
Organisers claimed the curriculum was very heavily weighted towards gender ideology and sexual orientation.
Meeting organiser Rachel Jackson said her requests to the school for more information about the material being presented were initially denied. The school responded to requests with more information last Monday.
One father, who did not want to be identified , said he had a serious concern about the material being presented, and he had not been properly advised about what content would be presented.
“I just got a brief overview of what would be taught with a bubble attached to it [an email], with online links — there wasn’t a lot of info.”
He first knew of the content after his child discussed it with him.
“I thought this was a bit over the top.”
His 14 year-old was at an especially vulnerable age and did not think the material was suitable for the classroom at any age.
He said some people held back from speaking at the meeting for fear of being labelled “nutters”.
“We are not nutters, we are just concerned parents. Why can’t they [the school], right at the start, have a discussion with the parents? It’s the secrecy that concerns me.”
He believed the material was age-inappropriate, exposing them to situations and sent the wrong message or guidance.
“If one of my mates had a 14 year-old daughter and I started talking to her about this stuff, I would expect a punch in the jaw.”
Another parent said she was very encouraged so many had turned up to the meeting.
Parents were not speaking up for fear of retribution on themselves or their children.
“Parents are the ones who should be having these conversations with their children.
“I know it’s unrealistic to expect all families will do that, but it is definitely not the place at the school.
The college referred to Ministry of Education guidelines, legal obligations and best practice to develop their sexual health curriculum. College board of trustees presiding member Donald Kidd said relationships and sexuality education (RSE) was one of seven key areas of learning of health education within the health and physical education learning area of the curriculum.
He said CSC consulted with the community at least every two years about health education.
The most recent consultation was in the second term in 2021 and about 40 people attended a meeting.
The next consultation will be in the next term.
The school was aware that young people were exposed to a broad range of information and perspectives about relationships and sexuality which could include harmful content and misinformation.
“Our aim is to provide accessible, accurate, inclusive, and positive information to our year 9 and 10 students. Our goal is to support our young people to understand and navigate positive and equal sexual and romantic relationships, including consent. We recognise that some parents and caregivers may not be comfortable with the course content and delivery.”
Parents were to let the school know if their child wanted to opt out.
Original publication here