My colleague, Phil Paleologos, received a call this morning,Thursday, from an irate parent. It seems Acushnet's Ford Middle School was teaching oral sex to middle school students. I followed up with a call to one of the Selectmen. Roger Cabral was shocked speechless. This led to a quick conversation with the Chairperson of the Acushnet School Committee. Sarah Gomes assured me parents were informed. Read the below email. My eyes tell me parents only have a portion of the truth.
I'm no prude, but it's highly inappropriate for schools to teach any form of sex to students, even under the guise of safe sex. Everybody knows schools have enough trouble teaching the ABC's and 1-2-3's. Parents need to be fully informed about this questionable instruction, not given partial information, so they can make an informed decision whether or not to opt their child(ren) out of this extra-curricular activity! Who anointed the Health Teacher Goddess?
This sanitized email doesn't hint oral sex will part of this "Health program." You may differently interpret. Is this proper? How would you respond after the fact?
[Note: this email is for the coming week. A similar email went out for another grade's instruction earlier this week.]
"Date: May 25, 2017 at 4:06 PM
Subject: letter from the Health teacher
Notification from: Ford Middle School (FMS) - Acushnet PS
Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s)
We will begin our Healthy Relationships and Human Development unit in 7th grade Health classes on June 7th. I wanted to take a moment to share the curriculum objectives of this unit and make myself available if you have any questions on this topic or any other topics we are discussing in health and wellness class. The curriculum objectives of the unit are as follows:
Students will be able to:
• Identify the stages of the human life cycle from prenatal to late adulthood.
• Identify characteristics of healthy relationships and demonstrate communication skills that foster them.
• Recognize and define sexual harassment and understand school’s sexual harassment policy and legal implications.
• Differentiate between gender identity and sexual orientation.
• Describe a range of ways to express affection in relationships including safe and risky sexual behaviors and their potential outcomes.
• Identify the benefits of abstinence, postponing sexual behavior, and setting limits on sexual behavior.
• Demonstrate refusal skills relating to abstaining from sexual behaviors, including abstinence.
• Define STIs/STDs including HIV/AIDS and how they are and are not transmitted.
These health lessons include evidence-based activities from Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education that Works c. 2013 and are in accordance to the National Health Education Standards, the National Sexuality Education Standards, and the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework. If you would like to preview the curriculum, a copy of materials is available in the front office at Ford Middle School. The five lessons in the Healthy Relationships and Human Sexuality unit are as follows:
Lesson 1: Human Development
Lesson 2: Sexual Harassment & Sexual Identity: Respecting Differences & Boundaries
Lesson 3: Deciding About Sexual Behavior
Lesson 4: Defining and Maintaining Abstinence
Lesson 5: Introduction to Sexually Transmitted Infections
You have the right to have your child opt out of these lessons. To do so please email Alexandra Washburn, Health Teacher, at by Monday June 5th. Furthermore, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via email. Some of these lessons may be combined due to scheduling.
Alexandra Washburn"

Editor’s Note: Brian Thomas is the host of Brian’s Beat on 1420 WBSM New Bedford.  He can be heard weekdays from 10am-Noon and Saturdays from 6am-9am.  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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