Onslow

Onslow County mother worried about children's safety after seeing school handbook

9-7-17 student handbook issue

JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - Sarah Silverman said she doesn't agree with the way the Onslow County Schools student handbook addresses homosexuality.

"There is no reason whatsoever for them to put that wording in this handbook," Silverman said.

The wording Silverman refers to is on pages 19-20 of the handbook. Page 19 states "Instruction will emphasize the positive values of sexuality within the context of lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Making clear reference with the terms husband, wife and spouse."

Silverman said she's unmarried but in a relationship with another woman.

"It shouldn't be where they can pick and choose in a public school," Silverman said. "I feel like my kids shouldn't have to feel like something's wrong there when for one it's legal."

She said she also takes issue with a paragraph on the next page. "Teachers will present legal issues such as laws dealing with statutory rape, abortion, homosexuality, incest, and divorce, " it reads.

Silverman said she doesn't think the word homosexuality belongs in a list next to crimes like rape and incest.

"And the words 'dealing with legally' homosexuality, I didn't really understand what, why it would be put there like that," Silverman said.

With her own children in the school system, Silverman said she wonders how the school's policy might affect the way other students treat her children.

"I've had one that's been made fun of before because of our lifestyle," Silverman said.

She thinks the policies that mention homosexuality in the student handbook should be reviewed and rewritten and also believes the school district should apologize.

Onslow County School officials released a statement about the issue:

"OCS teaches tolerance, acceptance and compassion and prohibits discrimination, bullying and harassment.  We expect our students and staff to respect cultural diversity and ideological differences.

At the same time, North Carolina Law states that Family Life Education Programs must teach students that "a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS." The OCS Family Life Education section, under the Comprehensive Health Education Program: Policy Code 3540, reflects the North Carolina General Statutes – Chapter 115C Article 8, Section (4).

The objective of Family Life Education is to provide medically accurate and age appropriate human development and sexuality education that encourages parent/child communication, promotes abstinence and enables students to make responsible decisions regarding their health and sexuality. OCS uses a directive teaching method to address the K-12 Health Education Essential Standards found at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/curriculum/healthfulliving/scos/.

When we instruct students, at an age appropriate level, about laws on controversial topics, the components of the discussion are going to include how they were considered in the past, and how legislation has changed over time to reflect today's diverse voices and opinions.

Parents/guardians are given the opportunity to review, for at least 60 days prior to instruction, all the State objectives and instructional material (including any teacher-generated or commercially-generated lessons) prior to instructional delivery and provide parents and legal guardians with the opportunity to consent or withhold their consent to the students' participation in any or all the programs.

OCS will review the policy and seek guidance from the North Carolina School Board Association."


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