Students Learning Accurate, Comprehensive Sex Ed

Fresno Unified freshman biology classes now include sexual health education lessons and curriculum.

The text is Positive Prevention Plus (PPP), which covers 10 topics ranging from life planning and goal setting to media and peer pressure. The curriculum is taught by biology teachers and Fresno Barrios Unidos (FBU) health educators. FBU is a Fresno nonprofit that has been serving valley youth and families for over 20 years, specializing in reproductive health.

The curriculum meets the requirements of the California Healthy Youth Act, which requires that all students receive accurate and comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention instruction. Last spring, the PPP curriculum was delivered to more than 5,100 students in 55 classrooms at 12 district high schools.

"What a great partnership it is with FBU," said Elisa Messing, director of Instructional Services. "FBU health educators can read a room and ask challenging questions of the students and create a safe environment. All those pieces let the lesson land positively."

Amanda Peterson, a teacher at Sunnyside High School, strongly believes in the importance of sex education: "It doesn't matter how much we prepare our students for college or career. They won't have those choices if they don't get accurate and comprehensive sex education."

Socorro Santillan, FBU executive director, acknowledges that some parents may feel anxious about the instruction.

"What we do in the classroom is not to replace home conversations, but to enhance home conversations that parents can reinforce with the family's values and expectations," Santillan said.

Fresno Unified shares a common goal with parents and guardians -- that students are healthy in all aspects. Parents can excuse students from the sexual health education using an opt-out form available in the school office or from the student's biology teacher.