A large group of concerned citizens showed up at Monday’s Vigo County School Board meeting to continue advocating for a sex education program that is evidence-based, medically accurate and inclusive of the LGBTQ community.

The subject drew at least 10 speakers, including parents, high school and college students and college faculty.

The speakers have reservations about the currently used program, Creating Positive Relationships (CPR), which is abstinence-based, and in recent months, they have raised concerns at school board meetings.

They have called for an outside review of CPR and also pointed to other curriculum materials available that meet state law and address their concerns. The district recently indicated an outside review will be conducted of CPR.

One of the speakers, Jill Garland, an ISU student and parent, said after the meeting, “I hope the board heard from the community — just the sheer number of people that are wanting a more inclusive sexual education curriculum that includes trauma-informed care and LGBTQ affirming care.”

Martina Hull, ISU student and member of the LGBTQ community, said Terre Haute has ranked low for Indiana in terms of a national survey that ranks inclusiveness and resources for those in the LGBTQ community.

“I believe that to ensure safety and equality for all students, including those who identify as LGBTQ, a more scientifically focused sex education curriculum and more inclusiveness for all students is desperately needed in our high schools,” Hull said. “This doesn’t mean evidence based education is our only focus. It means students are given more objective, scientifically-based information so they can make informed choices.”

She added, “Today, we ask you to consider reviewing the current sex education curriculum to include both abstinence-based and scientifically-based programming that is inclusive” for those students in the LGBTQ community.

Ruth Fairbanks, who has addressed the issue at several meetings, said, “There is a real need to look at the needs of our teens,” and then identify a curriculum that meets those needs.

Cheryl Huey has three children and one is a member of the LGBTQ community. Many young people don’t have supportive families and are afraid to ask for information about sex; instead, many turn to the Internet for information, she said. “I am in support of an inclusive, all-encompassing sex education.”

Bill Treadway spoke in support of the CPR program.

At the conclusion of the meeting, school board member Rosemarie Scott thanked those citizens for attending and speaking. “We really need to put the kids first and I think that was the focus of all of your comments, and we appreciate it.”

Board member Joni Wise agreed. “It takes a lot to come to a meeting to consistently try to advocate for change,” she said. “Four of us [board members] were new last year, and this was something that was an eye-opener for us. We want what is best for our students. And we’ll continue to advocate for what’s best.”

After the meeting, Superintendent Rob Haworth said that the issue “goes beyond curriculum meetings.” He plans to work with the school board to see how they want to address citizen concerns. He suggested a board-level committee may need to be formed.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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