Board OKs Special Sex-Ed Guidelines


Following nearly a year of discussion, the Ventura County Board of Education on Monday approved new sex-education guidelines for county-run schools that serve disabled children and troubled teen-agers.

To the relief of some teachers in the county’s 18 programs for special-education and at-risk students, the new policy sets no new restrictions on teaching methods used in sex-education classes.

“It is broad enough for us to work under,” said Diana Novak, special education director for the county superintendent of schools.


But county board member Wendy Larner, who was elected in 1991 with the support of the conservative Pro-Family Caucus of Ventura County, said Monday that she still hopes to set new restrictions on sex education when individual schools bring their curricula to the board for approval.

Although the sex-education guidelines set out general principles for each school’s curriculum, the county board still must give separate approval to each school’s teaching plan.

Larner has said she opposes teaching about contraception and certain other aspects of sexuality because it could send students the message that premarital sex is acceptable.

In hearings over the past several months on sex-ed guidelines, special education teachers said they need to be free to use certain teaching methods with disabled children that may not be needed in regular classrooms.

Disabled students typically learn best through specific examples rather than general ideas, teachers told the board.

“Our students don’t learn in the abstract,” Novak said. “It has to be very concrete.”

In one county-run school, for example, a nurse uses drawings of a naked man and woman to teach teen-agers how to name body parts.


The guidelines approved Monday state that each school’s “curriculum shall be appropriate for use with students of various ages, learning abilities and special needs.”

The county runs 12 educational programs for disabled or special-education students and has another six schools for troubled youths, including those who left regular schools because they became pregnant or got into trouble with the law.