Washington County Public Schools is seeking volunteers to serve on an advisory committee to review state changes in health education curriculum materials for pre-K through 12th grade.
The Family Life Advisory Committee will include parents, businesspeople, community leaders and WCPS staff, according to school documents. Members will be appointed by the Washington County Board of Education.
“The (school board) shall consider groups such as parents/guardians, students, legislators, members of community organizations, clergy, physicians, and members of professional and civic organizations when making committee appointments “, say the documents.
The Family Life Advisory Committee will be limited to a maximum of 15 members.
Meanwhile, the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) requires every school system to provide comprehensive family life and HIV prevention education to students as part of comprehensive health education.
Given the sensitive nature of the programs, the Maryland State Department of Education requires each local school system to consult with community members when developing, implementing and evaluating the program.
They will review instructional materials and make recommendations to the school board.
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The Family Life Advisory Committee will review changes to the state’s curriculum in the following areas outlined in Maryland’s Comprehensive Health Education Framework.
• Mental and emotional health.
• Drug addiction prevention.
• Family life and human sexuality.
• Security and violence prevention.
• Healthy eating.
• Disease prevention and control.
Within the framework of family life and human sexuality, students beginning in pre-K would learn to recognize that there are different types of families, says the Maryland Comprehensive Health Education Framework.
This includes single parent, same-sex parents, intergenerational, blended, interracial, adoption and foster families.
Starting in kindergarten, gender identity and expression will also be included, where students would learn to recognize and respect that people express themselves in different ways, the education framework document says. Students would learn to recognize a range of ways people identify and express their gender, and that it is important to treat people of all gender identities and expressions with dignity and respect.
Finally, beginning in grade four, students will learn to identify sexual orientation as a person’s physical and romantic attraction to an individual of the same or different sex.
Withdrawal is allowed for family life and human sexuality education from the fourth grade, the document says.
Other topics taught would include teasing, bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence. Stress, anxiety, depression and suicide prevention are also part of the program.
Drug abuse, including identifying products that can be harmful if inhaled, absorbed or ingested, will also be taught.
For more information and an online application, go to https://wcpsmd.com/school-board/committees.