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Sex ed is settled for upcoming school year at Cody High

Sex ed is settled for upcoming school year at Cody High

CODY - With less than a week before classes are set to start at Cody High School, board members of Park County School District 6 made clear Tuesday that they will not soon reconsider decisions made over the past several months about the school's health and sex education curriculum.

Following a report by an 18-member advisory group, the board voted in June to bar community groups, including Northwest Family Planning, from teaching or serving as guest speakers at health classes dealing with contraception.

"That topic keeps coming up in the community, and that's an issue that has been taken care of and has been voted on by the board," said Dossie Overfield, board chairwoman.

"The board won't take any action on that for at least a year from (last) June," she said, noting the date of the most recent board decision on the matter.

Overfield read a prepared statement that she said clarified the board's position on the issue, but it was not immediately clear who prepared the written clarification, or why.

The ban on speakers from specific community agencies, including Northwest Family Planning, West Park Hospital and others "was intended to eliminate the named groups from teaching contraception methods to be presented in health class in the following areas: hormonal, barrier, abstinence, natural family planning and emphasis on the critical issues of STD protection and contraception," Overfield said.

"By action of the board, these items are to be taught by the district's high school health class teachers, medical physicians or licensed nurses," she said.

She said that such community groups "are not intended to be precluded from guest speaking services for the health classes at Cody High School or any other school or curriculum-based program in the district for any reason other than those noted in the board's prohibition" passed in June.

The clarification follows a series of policy discussions that began in January, when the district's seven-member board of trustees voted 4-3 to bar Northwest Family Planning from continuing to present information on sexually transmitted diseases and contraception that had previously been part of a one-hour section of the school's health class.

The board also voted to segregate classes along gender lines after members of Cody Right to Life presented a petition signed by about 500 people that stated that health classes should be "restricted to factual information about the reproductive system and abstinence education."

Concerned Citizens for the Health and Safety of Cody Students, a group formed in response to the January decision, presented a petition with about 500 signatures during a Feb. 9 special board meeting. The petition asked the board to "allow school administrators to determine necessary curriculum changes, which should be in compliance with state standards."

Overfield said that, with the issue resolved, "We'll move forward now and do the best we can for our students."

Contact Ruffin Prevost at rprevost@billingsgazette.com or 307-527-7250.

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