For the first time in nearly 15 years, the Pasco County school district is changing the way it teaches children about sex.
The district has implemented a new human growth and development curriculum for fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth grades that takes the lessons in some different directions.
More information is provided about healthy relationships and respecting one another. At the younger grades, added attention is paid to understanding boys’ and girls’ bodies, as well as puberty, with all students together instead of separated by gender.
At the older grades, lessons are updated to include issues ranging from preventing sexually transmitted diseases and dealing with gender identity, to properly using birth control and knowing warning signs of sexual abuse.
Health education supervisor Matt Wicks said a recent survey of nearly 1,500 Pasco County teens supports the district’s effort to revamp the model. He noted that health experts found Pasco to be a county at risk for high rates of teen pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
Among the survey results:
• 36.5 percent said they ever had sexual intercourse
• 24.6 percent said they were “currently sexually active”
• 12.7 percent said they had been victims of sexual violence
“This is the first time we have been able to get Pasco specific data,” Wicks said.
He plans to present the materials, along with information about a federal grant the district has received to tackle adolescent health issues, at a School Board workshop on Tuesday. He said he wanted the board to have as much information as possible, in case members begin receiving calls from families with questions about the lessons being offered.
“When you start talking about sex,” he said, “people get a little nervous.”