Utah groups disapprove of new sex education teacher guide

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Conservative groups in Utah have told school officials they disapprove of a new teacher instructional guide for sex education, saying the guide was inappropriate and explicit, officials said.

Instructional guides were created addressing specific topics including sex education after new K-12 health standards were passed in April, school officials said. It is the first time since 1997 that there were updates to the educational health standards.

The Utah Eagle Forum, pro-family and anti-abortion groups expressed the concerns, The Deseret News reported Thursday.

Our children have to sit through these unexpected and embarrassing questions,” Utah Eagle Forum president Gayle Ruzicka said.

The state Board of Education heard public comments about the changes Thursday, officials said.

The updates included the addition of grades kindergarten through second grade, officials said. In addition to sex education, the health standards cover multiple topics including mental and emotional health, substance abuse prevention, safety and disease prevention, nutrition and human development.

Teachers are now allowed to respond to student questions to provide medically accurate data, clarify or correct misinformation, officials said. However, they are prohibited from answering questions about techniques or how-to questions.

“I don’t understand why the teacher can’t say, ‘That’s outside our curriculum. Please ask your parents,'” said Robert Woods, a father of five.

Under Utah law, students may not participate in human sexuality education without parental permission, and parents have the option to opt their children out of any section of the curriculum, officials said.

People who oppose the guide also complained about a passage about abortion, calling it demeaning and medically inaccurate.

“What is an abortion? It is the spontaneous or medically induced removal of the contents of the uterus during pregnancy,” according to the guide.

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