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Byline: SUSAN L. RIFE email@example.com
When more than 300 people showed up at the Sarasota County School Board meeting on Dec. 7 to voice their opinions on whether Planned Parenthood should teach sex education in the public high schools, it's a good bet that many were unaware what is actually taught in the portion of Life Management Skills that deals with human reproduction, sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases.
While most of the 60 or so high school students who attended the meeting had probably already taken LMS, which is required for graduation and is most often taken in the freshman year or in summer school, the school district reports that it's the rare parent who asks to see the textbooks or other information used in the class.
So what's really taught in sex ed?
The answer depends on what county you live in, what programs your child's school has chosen, and what teacher your child has.
Throughout the 13 years of public education, sex education is included in health classes. In middle school, health usually is part of science class. In high school, it's part of Life Management Skills.
LMS also includes consumer education; emotional development; nutrition and physical activity; and tobacco, alcohol and drug use and abuse.
Florida establishes benchmarks for what children at each grade level should know, starting with kindergarten, where 5-year-olds should be aware of what their private body parts are (those areas covered by a bathing suit) and good and bad touches, and continuing through AIDS awareness and human sexuality in middle and high school.
The benchmarks are requirements, although students do not take a statewide exam on health topics. But how they are taught is determined in part by school districts, and in part by school principals and the staff who teach health, science and LMS.