An opt-out policy has been formalized at a Mission school after a parental complaint about sexual health instruction in a Grade 8 class.
In a letter to Mission Public Schools and Heritage Park Secondary School administration, the Charlton family expressed concerns after their 13-year-old daughter was given a detailed description on the application of a condom in her Advancement Through Learning Academic Skills (ATLAS) class Feb. 21.
No permission form was sent home beforehand, said Nancy Charlton. That was confirmed by principal Shirley Gibson.
“All parents should have been consulted prior to such graphic instruction and given the opportunity at that time to opt out,” read the letter. “The decision for a child to have or not have ‘sexual health’ instruction from their school should be each individual parent’s to make.”
The Mission family wrote they have discussions with their children about “sexual matters in age appropriate ways.”
Reaction from the school and board office was swift, said Charlton, adding she is satisfied with how the situation was resolved and the apology received.
In the future, parental opt-out forms will be sent home prior to all health and drug and alcohol units in the ATLAS 7-8 and Planning 10 classes, said Gibson.
Gibson said this instruction was a regular part of the curriculum, and has been taught by a youth care worker for years. This is the first complaint the principal has received.