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Controversy stirs over Wausau Schools curriculum policy discussion

Parents and students are angry and scared that the Wausau School district might change its sex ed curriculum. The district said there’s nothing to be worried about.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 10:07 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Controversy about the health curriculum at the Wausau school district is causing students and parents to speak out. The Wausau Education-Operations Committee met Monday night to talk about possible changes. Parents and students are angry and scared that the Wausau School district might change its sex ed curriculum. The district said there’s nothing to be worried about.

Concerns about the future of Wausau School District’s sex-ed curriculum made for a packed school board meeting Monday night. Many parents and students believe the district is pushing for an “abstinence-only” curriculum.

“We need comprehensive sex education, which is currently offered, but with these doors opening it could result in a lot of unforeseen circumstances,” Wausau East High School Senior Megan Marohl said.

The concern comes from a policy manual of the human growth and development policies, a document provided to the district by Neola, an educational consulting firm. The document, emphasizes the value of abstinence from sex. It also has a section that’s crossed out that initially discussed the use of contraceptives. That particular wording is worrying some.

“They [Wausau School District] wouldn’t have brought up the proposed changes without planning to make changes. This opens many doors to the possible changes of abstinence only,” Marohl said.

The school district said it’s written that way for the language to be more consistent with state statute. Superintendent Dr. Keith Hilts said despite this, they’re not changing the curriculum.

“We’re going to continue to teach a broad comprehensive Human Growth and Development curriculum including contraception and all those that we’ve been teaching. Again, that’s a board-approved curriculum and we wouldn’t change that curriculum without board approval,” Hilts said.

He said the reason this is being discussed is to meet state requirements. The new state requirement says school districts must teach students that they can bring newborns to health care centers or law enforcement if they don’t have the ability to care for the child.

“There’s nothing going on behind the scenes, the board has no secret agenda, we will continue to give the students the skills they need to be successful,” Hilts said.

While a final decision has not been made, the committee agreed it would be best to adopt the consulting firm’s language, while adding the piece that teaches students about the use of contraceptives and other barrier methods. The school district plans to revisit the topic in the future.

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