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  • Ian Sullivan - Interim ED

Sexual Health - MORE inclusion, not less

Odyssey’s commitment to safe and affirming programs, policies, and services for LGBTQ youth came together this past week as the Spokane Public School Board tabled a vote on a new sexual health curriculum entitled Get Real.

The process for approval of a new sexual health curriculum has been months and years in the making. Including guidelines from the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction in Olympia, teacher and administrator input, and most importantly a citizen’s advisory committee focused on Human Growth and Development. Odyssey has a seat at this table along with over a dozen other committee members including parents, community members, and organizations such as the YWCA, Lutheran Community Services, Life Services of Spokane, and the Spokane Regional Health District.

The extensive review of available programs resulted in a recommendation by the Human Growth and Development committee for Spokane Public Schools to adopt Get Real for the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grade curriculum. The support for this program came from its comprehensive content, evidence based research showing effectiveness, the LGBTQ inclusive language, and most uniquely a component that helps young people to identify a trusted adult in their life in order to jointly do activities about sexual health topics as homework.

Odyssey applauds the hard work of all these stakeholders and fully supports the recommendation to adopt Get Real because of its work to make sexual health lessons pertinent, safe, and affirming for LGBTQ youth in our community.

Just this past Wednesday, I was leading a lesson about STDs with Odyssey youth when the conversation took on a story telling atmosphere. Youth, one after another, shared stories of feeling personally excluded from sexual health lessons in school, afraid to ask questions about their bodies or identities, and general frustration at the lack of time and effort put into these topics at their school. Sadly, these stories are not unique, or rare.

Youth deserve an abundance of resources, tools, and information to make the best choices for themselves, and it should all be delivered in a medically-accurate and inclusive fashion in all youth spaces.

The discussion on sexual health curriculum will not be formally brought back up in Spokane Public Schools until the fall, and Odyssey is ready to do what is needed to tackle this first step in making sexual health lessons fully inclusive in our community. Inclusive for ALL youth.

Ian Sullivan Interim Executive Director - Odyssey Youth Movement

Odyssey Representative - Human Growth and Development Citizen's Advisory Committee

Odyssey Youth Movement is a youth-led, adult-supported organization committed to creating, sustaining, and advocating for safe and affirming programs, policies, and services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth community.

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