NORFOLK, Va. — The sexual education curriculum for Norfolk Public Schools is expanding.
The school board approved changes 6-to-1 in a meeting Wednesday night.
Among several topics, classroom discussions for middle and high school students will now include terminology like "masturbation, lesbianism and homosexuality," along with gender and sexual identity.
According to a May board meeting, the teachings are designed from a program called “Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education That Works.”
The curriculum will be offered for grades 6 through 10, and some topics vary based on grade level.
Some of the new topics are receiving both praise and concerns from community members.
Norfolk parent Leetreona Matthews does not think the topics are appropriate to be taught in public schools.
“I see the argument, but I think parents and guardians should be given discretion,” she said.
Parents and guardians can opt out of all, or specific lessons.
At Wednesday’s school board meeting, multiple parents and people in the community voiced their thoughts on the subject, both for and against.
“Once you start talking about sex outside of science and biology, you go into values. So it’s not a value-free topic,” said one woman. “And I think that’s something that the parents should come up with.”
“I’m here for it,” said another woman. “It has empowered them to deal with bullying, to deal with relationships, to deal with inappropriate sexual advances and conversations. It has let them know about their bodies.”
Corey Mohr, director of communication at the LGBT Life Center, said inclusive curriculum can lead to improved mental health for many students in the district.
“It may seem simple, but doing something like this, when you can be seen and feel heard, it’s really important for students,” said Mohr. “It’s really important for mental health, and it makes for better people in the world.”
A spokesperson for Gov. Glenn Youngkin's office sent 13News Now the following statement regarding the curriculum:
"The Norfolk school board’s decision will expose children to age inappropriate materials, is outside of the state standards of learning, and is driven by a politicized Planned Parenthood agenda. Just as community leaders spoke up at the school board meeting, the governor encourages parents to make their voices heard on this matter."
The curriculum is offered in partnership with the Eastern Virginia Medical School.