But the potential changes did not come without their fair share of community discussion. The curriculum plan now used by the school district, titled “Big Decisions,” has received criticism from some members of the community for its rhetoric.
The 2016 version of “Big Decisions” includes lesson plans that discuss transgender and homosexual ideology and speaks about masturbation and sexual pleasure.
The school district’s current sex-ed program is based on the 2009 “Big Decisions” curriculum. The curriculum is also based on DSISD’s own educational additions findings, calling for a program that is “localized” and for the students of Dripping Springs.
District leaders and elected officials are looking to continue with this trend, implementing educational teachings from both “Big Decisions” and the district’s own sex-ed teaching.
“Parts of the 2016 curriculum got pulled out of context and shared in a way that is not representative of the district” said Nicole Poenitzsch, assistant superintendent for learning and innovation. “We had to adopt the whole curriculum, but that does not mean it cannot change.”
Poenitzsch said the district wanted parent, community and staff input to how sex education is properly taught to students and what age level is appropriate for certain topics of discussion.
“We are not using every part of the ‘Big Decisions’ program,” Poenitzsch said. “The SHAC is proposing a curriculum that is localized for out students.”
Sharon Armke, who is running for DSISD School Board, is against the “Big Decisions” curriculum as it promotes ideology not reflective of traditional values.
“Some parents are not happy with the new version of the curriculum,” Armke said. “The language is too explicit, especially for seventh graders. This is an ongoing conversation we need to have about how we want to educate our children.”
Armke said the district was not transparent about the information included in the 2016 version of “Big Decisions” which according to her, opposes abstinence and the consent law of 17 in the state of Texas.
According to state law, sex education programs must promote abstinence as the best choice in an unmarried relationship and the only way to completely avoid the spread of STDs.
However, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas ranks 4th in teen pregnancy rates, one of the worst in the union.
Dripping Springs ISD’s new sex-ed curriculum is being changed to keep up with social changes and the vast access of information provided by the internet and social media, which will help keep the district’s curriculum up to date.
“The goal is to compile a curriculum that is localized for our children and is clear about what we teach for our parents and staff to understand,” Poenitzsch said. “We’ve had open discussions, parent surveys and have been completely transparent with what is being proposed to the board.”