Human Sexuality

Dear Parents and Guardians:

As part of our commitment to promoting healthy living and responsible decision making, Wayland Middle School Wellness teachers will be educating students about interpersonal relationships, human sexuality, disease/suicide prevention, and mental health.  The Wellness department has also partnered with outside organizations to inform students about these important topics.  Through the following standards, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework identifies information middle school students should acquire by the end of 8th grade in the area of “Social and Emotional Health” and "Reproduction/Sexuality":

 

7.7 Recognize the positive contribution of character traits (such as tolerance, honesty, self discipline, respectfulness, and kindness) to relationships, the benefit to relationships which include understanding and respecting individual differences, and the detrimental effect of prejudice (such as prejudice on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, or religion) on individual relationships and society as a whole.

4.6  Explain the benefits of abstinence, postponing sexual behavior, and setting limits on sexual behavior.

4.7  Describe short- and long-term consequences of sexuality-related risk behaviors and identify barriers and supports for making health-enhancing decisions.  Students discuss consequences around sexuality decisions. Determine and role-play steps that improve decision-making (such as with whom to consult, information overlooked).

4.8  Describe behaviors and methods for pregnancy prevention, including abstinence.

4.9  Define the types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, and how they are prevented: Students report on the policies of various states and countries regarding STIs prevention among youth.

4.10 Identify sexual discrimination and harassment: Students use current events or media portrayal to discuss the consequences of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

5.7 Identify and describe the experience of different feelings (such as elation, joy, grief, and rage) and how feelings affect daily functioning.

5.8: Identify the causes and effects of depression and how to seek help.

5.10 Describe the contribution of a personal support system to good mental health.

 

REACH (6th, 7th, and 8th Grade)

 

REACH Beyond Domestic Violence is a non-profit organization providing safety and support to survivors of abuse while engaging communities to promote healthy relationships and prevent domestic violence. The Prevention and Education team partners with schools and communities to provide healthy relationship workshops to middle and high school students, professional development sessions for teachers, and educational events for parents as a way to build awareness, skills, and safer communities.  You can find more information at http://reachma.org/.

 

In the sixth grade, students will use interdisciplinary methods to discuss the characteristics of healthy friendships. Students will engage in activities that model how to respectfully resolve conflicts and how to communicate boundaries.

 

In the seventh grade, workshops will focus on navigating shifting relationships amid a period of transition. Students will explore topics of conflict resolution, physical, emotional, and digital boundaries, and the influence and use of social media and technology in relationships.

 

In the eighth grade, students will build on their knowledge to discuss how boundaries are communicated in a physical and digital world. More focus will be put onto dating relationships, warning signs of unhealthy relationships, and how to help a friend when they are in need.

 

PFLAG (8th Grade)

 

PFLAG is a group of parents, families, friends, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. They help change attitudes and create an environment of understanding so that our LGBTQ family members and friends can live in a world that is safe and inclusive. This is accomplished through support, education, and advocacy.  You can find out more information about this organization at https://www.pflag.org/.

 

The goal of the 8th grade workshop is to raise awareness and understanding about gender identity and sexual orientation. This class will include a presentation that explains terms and identities. The second half features a speakers’ panel, in which speakers share their personal stories to illustrate age-appropriate LGBTQ+ and ally experiences.

 

Human Sexuality and Disease Prevention (8th Grade)

Ms. Araszkiewicz devotes one class period to learning about methods of pregnancy prevention and watching the DVD,  Am I Ready? Making Healthy Sexual Decisions.  (http://pub.etr.org/ProductDetails.aspx?id=100000028&itemno=G214.) A second class is devoted to teaching information about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), touching upon Reproduction/Sexuality Standards 4.6-4.9. Statistics on the effectiveness of each contraceptive method are shared.  Common STIs are explained, including symptoms and treatment.  A third class is built into the curriculum to answer any additional questions and to review the topics in further detail, if need be.  Students are invited to anonymously pose a question(s).  These questions are reviewed and selected by Ms. Araszkiewicz, who shares factual information that respects students' developmental readiness.

 

(Suicide Prevention) 7th Grade,

Guidance Counselor, Dr. Stephen Farina, and 7th grade Wellness teacher, Pam Riddle, will co-teach this unit to our 7th grade students.  The evidence-based curriculum called S.O.S. (Signs of Suicide) has also been implemented into the 10th grade classes at Wayland High School.  As a parent and an educator, I realize how frightening it can be to read about teen suicides that have occurred in neighboring communities so similar to our own. Committed to taking preventative action, we have shared this curriculum with the entire faculty as well, to help them detect any warning signs they might see in the classroom. We aim to equip students and staff with the tools to recognize signs of depression and actively care for one another.  Please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns. 

 

Samaritans (7th and 8th Grade)

Students in the 7th and 8th grade will be meeting with a professional educator from Samaritans, an organization that specializes in suicide awareness and prevention.  Samaritans’ mission is to reduce the risk of suicide by alleviating despair, isolation, distress, and suicidal feelings.  Samaritans provides a number of services including 24/7 crisis management, grief support, and community outreach and education.  More information about the organization can be found on their website: http://samaritanshope.org/  

The presentations will be facilitated by Lauren Gablinske, a licensed School Counselor and Director of Community Education and Outreach at Samaritans.  Ms. Gablinske’s primary role is to educate adolescents, parents, and teachers about suicide and suicide prevention. 

The 7th grade workshop will follow the SOS program and will be designed to help students understand empathy, positive coping skills, and give real life examples through role-play of how to handle difficult situations with friends they are worried about.

The 8th grade workshop will be designed to safely engage students in a discussion about suicide, depression, and to help students explore who they can turn to for support.  Discussion around myths of suicide as well as risk factors and warning signs will be introduced.  During the presentation students will also learn important prevention and protective strategies, which begin with building their own resiliency.  Special attention will be given to helping students determine which adults and organizations they can turn to for support for themselves and for their peers.

Guidance and Social Workers have been alerted of the presentations and will be readily available during each presentation in the case a student needs to speak with someone.

 

Within 6th, 7th and 8th grade, our BERT values of belonging, empathy, respect and trust are used to frame classroom conversations.  Students are reminded of the need to listen respectfully and participate in discussions appropriately. The decision making tenets that underpin all aspects of our Life Skills Wellness curriculum - Clarify, Consider, and Choose - are central to teaching and learning.

 

Please know that under Massachusetts law, parents have the right to opt their child out of any single lesson, or opt out of an entire unit, that includes information about human sexuality.  An alternative wellness activity will be offered to your child during that time.  Parents may do this by writing me a letter.

 

Parents' voices are important components in the work of educating middle schoolers about reproduction and sexuality. We encourage you to discuss these topics with your student and communicate your important family values.  If you have further questions about the curriculum you may contact your child's Wellness teacher.  Our guidance counselors can also be a support as you help your child navigate issues of sexuality that emerge in adolescence.  Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

Betsy Gavron
Principal