Sex ed heats up Roaring Fork School Board meeting; parents speak out |

Sex ed heats up Roaring Fork School Board meeting; parents speak out

Taylor Cramer
Glenwood Springs Post Indepenent
Students, parents, teachers and other members of the public packed the Sept. 28 Roaring Fork District school board meeting when an LGBTQ+ and gender expansive toolkit was discussed.
John Stroud/Courtesy photo

The proposed adoption of a new Roaring Fork School District health and human sexuality curriculum prompted several comments at the Wednesday Board of Education meeting.

The curriculum focuses on providing students the opportunity to expand their physical and personal wellness, social, and emotional wellness and prevention and risk management. Included with that is also language supporting the needs and inclusivity of gender-expansive and LGBTQ+ students in the district. 

Through the curriculum, the adoption committee states that students will have the opportunity to:

  • Ask any questions they have about issues such as puberty, sex, reproduction, and relationships.
  • Receive complete, age-appropriate and medically-accurate information about sexuality.
  • Explore issues that interest them related to their sexual development.
  • Develop the skills necessary to form healthy friendships and, later, healthy romantic partnerships.
  • Have support from caring adults who respect, affirm, and celebrate them for who they are.

While the proposal allows for students to opt out of the curriculum, many parents who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting in Carbondale expressed their concern about what could be a new addition to Roaring Fork school’s education plan.

“I believe the curriculum that a lot of parents want to talk about today is actually opening the door for kids to prematurely explore one another’s body,” said Stephanie Hirsch, speaking on behalf of the new Roaring Fork Mom’s Group.

While many expressed their concerns regarding the curriculum, some advocated for the proposal, expressing that it’s important for children to learn topics based on gender and sexuality at a young age.

“To me, this decision is a no-brainer,” said Ashley Stahl, a member of the LGBTQ+ community. “Our community is a beautiful mixture of kids from all ends of the gender and sexuality spectrum. If we care about the kids in our community, we need to provide all of them the tools they will need to keep themselves safe.”

With many shared opinions being brought to the board, Roaring Fork Schools Chief of Students and Family Services Anna Cole, who presented the curriculum to the board and community, said opposition is no sign of disrespect but rather a sign of fair personal opinions taking place.

“We’re lucky to live in a community where we still have a diversity of local opinions,” she said. “Let’s find ways to move forward together courageously as leaders and become stronger because of the hard conversations we have.”

Superintendent Jesús Rodríguez and board President Kathryn Kuhlenberg clarified the curriculum will come before the board for action within the next month.

Other topics before the board on Wednesday included a decision to compensate future board of education members $5,000 per year, paid in 10 equal monthly installments for their duties performed. A new state law allows local school board members to be compensated.

With three board seats up for election in November, those elected will have the option to either accept or decline the compensation. Current Director Kenny Tietler and President Kuhlenberg would not be eligible for compensation until 2025 if they choose to run again and are re-elected.


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