Updated: Mar 23
The Great Schools Initiative has uncovered that the sex education curriculums at many Michigan schools are NOT in legal compliance.
So how does a parent find out if their school district is following the law when it comes to sex education?
Start by investigating to see if your school district has a legally compliant Sex Education Advisory Board (SEAB).
STEP 1) Review your district’s board of education meeting minutes for the past 24 months to see if they have established a SEAB (Sexual Education Advisory Board) or the like. Board meeting minutes are commonly posted on the district website. Districts that offer sex education are required to form a SEAB at least once every two years.
If there is nothing noted in the minutes, go directly to emailing the board asking if there have been any changes made to the sex education curriculum in the past two years, or if any are planned. And when was the last time the district formed a SEAB?
STEP 2) If they did form an SEAB, was the SEAB's formation legally compliant with MCL 380.1507?
A school cannot legally offer sex education without forming a Sex Education Advisory Board (SEAB) that meets the following criteria:
*Establishes the term of service for members,
*Establishes the number of members that will serve on the SEAB,
*Establishes a selection process that reflects the school district population,
*Appoints 2 co-chairs, one of which is to be a parent of a child attending a school operated by the school district;
*At least 1/2 of members must be parents with a child in the district;
If the above information isn't clearly provided in the board of education minutes, GSI has an example SEAB inquiry letter you can copy, customize, and send to your local school board: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QsopUL2mErQVmkDI7zA9earsyidxOPkg0JeBkzqwOg8/edit
If through your investigation you discover that the school's SEAB was not formed in compliance with the law, please see the link in Step 4 on how to report such violations.
STEP 3) Volunteer to serve on the SEAB! If you and members of your parent group or community get on the SEAB that would be optimal as the SEAB reviews and recommends all updates and changes to the sex education curriculum being taught. Schools are suppose to announce when they are forming a SEAB and have an application process for people to volunteer.
Again, the SEAB recommends all curriculum changes and updates to the board and it all MUST be presented to the public and the board of education at TWO public meetings.
After the these two public meetings, the board of education then votes to approve all or parts of the recommendations made by the SEAB.
These are PUBLIC meetings, so attend, get others to attend, and voice your opinions during public comment!
STEP 4) Be sure to acquire and retain copies of ALL board of education approved sex education curriculums , lesson plans, aids, and materials currently being used to ensure it is being followed and not being changed or supplemented without going through the proper process described above.
It's important to underscore that the above curriculum approval process applies to sex education provided at ALL grade levels and that ONLY material that has been through the SEAB process AND approved by the board of education is allowed to be used by teachers. Absolutely NO outside or supplemental information is allowed!
If you find the school is teaching material that has not been recommend by the SEAB and approved by the board of education, that is a violation of Michigan law and there is a legal complaint process to reporting such violations: http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-388-1766a
It is very important that you document the violation(s) you have found. Please feel free to reach out to GSI. We can help you navigate this complaint process.
NOTE: You should not have to FOIA any of the sex education curriculum or material as it is to be made available to parents and to the public.
STEP 5) Ask for the reports! The SEAB is also required to establish program goals and objectives that are likely to reduce the rates of sex, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. At least once every two years, the SEAB is to evaluate, measure and report on the attainment of these goals and objectives. The board of education is legally required to make these reports available to parents.
STEP 6) Get to know the law. We have unpacked a lot, but it's always good to have the original source. Here is a link to MCL 380.1507 that legally directs sex education curriculum development and the approval process. Note this is just one of many Michigan laws that govern sex education in our state:
STEP 7) Check out the Sex Education Opt-out form created by the Great Schools Initiative. GSI makes it easy for parents and let's kids be kids!