Davis School District officials may never know how the district's sex-education classes are affecting students.
Surveying the teenagers about their sexual behaviors is too disruptive to regular classroom activities, said Superintendent Rich Kendell, who has decided against a survey."We have to get permission from parents and take students out of class to survey," he said. "We can't deal with that kind of research."
And last time the state proposed asking students detailed questions regarding sexual behavior, Davis parents flooded the phone lines.
"My phone rang off the hook with people begging me not to let (the state) survey their children," said school board member Ray Briscoe. "There are a lot of strong feelings out there."
But at least two district officials wish they had solid information about how the Sex Respect program, which is based on abstinence before marriage, influences behavior.
"Right now, we're collecting information about students' belief systems," said Candace Gunnell, who helps district teachers implement the sex education program and monitors students' responses. "But it would also be useful to see whether the program has created a shift in behavior."
Gunnell's boss, Craig Hansen, who is the district's healthy-lifestyles coordinator, agreed.
A survey that asks direct sexual questions, however, creates "a lot of anxiety" among education leaders, students and parents, according to Stan Weed, a researcher who has conducted such surveys for several districts in Utah and out of state.
Weed approached Davis officials last year about a specific behavior survey but was turned down.
In lieu of a specific behavior survey, the district could expand its questioning to parents of students regarding what they liked and disliked about Sex Respect, Kendell said.
Sex Respect is taught to students, whose parents or guardians approve, in eighth and 10th grades.
The district also will not replace Sex Respect with the new sex education guide developed by the State Office of Education.
Teachers, however, and parents who request a copy from teachers can use the guide to supplement instruction in Sex Respect, he said.
Meanwhile, teachers will go through state-sponsored training before using any material from the guide.
Sex education in Davis
Objectives of the Sex Respect (abstinence before marriage) program:
- Help students recognize that sexual freedom is not the same as sexual impulsiveness.
- Define human sexuality.
- Identify various influences on sexual decision-making.
- Examine the physical, emotional and psychological risks associated with premarital sexual activity.
- Compare and contrast human procreation and animal reproduction.
- Describe how teens can say "no" to sex.
- List responsibilities of dating and parenthood.
- Explain why adoption is a healthy alternative to abortion.