Marshfield High School has two required health classes: freshman health, where the curriculum discusses how to eat well to keep the body healthy, the effects of drugs and alcohol and the practice of safe sex, and senior health, which discusses careers, different types of families and what students will need to be aware of when they have a baby. Not if they have a baby, but when.
Each class holds positives and negatives. However, I found the Family Health class taken during the junior or senior year needs to be improved in many different areas. Most issues stem from the curriculum the teachers are given. However, the teachers could do things to make the class feel more open and welcoming.
It is extremely beneficial to have a health class during a student’s first year of high school. This is an easy way for them to learn things and shape how the rest of their high school career could go. The class promotes abstinence, but realizes it is unrealistic to expect all students to wait until marriage to have sex. With that in mind, the curriculum discusses almost all forms of birth control and how to have the safest sex possible.
One thing about this class that has presented itself in my mind for years is the fact that the teacher started the first day of class, stating that terms like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” were not to be used. The term “partner” was to be said so nobody, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, would feel discriminated against.
The senior Family Health class, on the other hand, did not take that approach. It was a very strict husband or wife approach, in the most heterosexual way. News flash: not everyone plans on being married, or being married to the opposite sex.
This class has textbook guidelines to follow. Unfortunately, this textbook was published in 2006. Doing simple math, we can see that this was literally a decade ago. Times have changed significantly since then and the textbook is in dire need of an update.
Another example is that the textbook never discusses what someone should do if they become pregnant. It discusses many methods of how to start a family, like adopting a child or having a child of one’s own, but there is no discussion on what to do if someone does not want to begin their family at that specific point in time. Whether someone agrees with the use of abortion or not, the use of it has become legal and more readily available. Not only that, but the book never talks about putting a child up for adoption.
The Family Health class basically makes the idea of having a family a necessity, rather than a choice. I am aware of the fact that the class is to discuss how to have a family, but it took a less welcoming or comfortable approach.
The Coos Bay School District fails to bring in enough funding to buy a more recent set of textbooks. The textbooks and curriculum being used now
fails to benefit the students.
The class teaches moral developments and other things on a more personal scale, as well as means of managing money and what students should do for their future careers to support their children. Obviously this is a good thing, but these things can be taught without the textbook’s excessive use of gender stereotypes and use of heteronormativity.
The teachers do a wonderful job in their health classes to teach students about their futures with the curriculum they are given. However, the senior health class should have a more personal and realistic approach, in the sense that mothers are not the only ones to stay home with their children anymore and not everyone plans on being married.
The health classes that teach real life skills that students will use for the rest of their lives have not been updated for years. This needs to change. Even one classroom set to be kept in the teacher’s room would be better than what is given to students now. A change needs to be made for the well-being of the students.
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