Healey's sex ed curriculum proposal, explained

A teacher gives a lesson during a health class at the John D. Runkle School in Brookline. (Hadley Green/WBUR)
A teacher gives a lesson during a health class at the John D. Runkle School in Brookline. (Hadley Green/WBUR)

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This morning’s thunderstorms are moving out of the region, but keep an umbrella on you for the rest of the week; there’s a likelihood of more storms today, tomorrow and Thursday. (Check your flight if you’re headed to Logan; nearly 150 have been delayed or canceled.)

Before we get to the more figurative clouds hanging over the local higher education scene, let’s run through today’s news:

Massachusetts education leaders will vote this morning on advancing Gov. Maura Healey’s recently proposed updates to the state’s sex education curriculum. The new proposal — which is five years in the making — would be the first update to the state’s existing health curriculum framework since 1999. It also doesn’t need approval from the Legislature, where previously proposed updates have stalled.

  • Why is an update necessary? According to a report last year by the group SIECUS, Massachusetts is one of 21 states that does not require sex education, leaving it up to local school boards instead. The report also found the state’s guidelines lacking when it comes to education about STDs and health relationships.
  • What it would do: Healey’s office says their proposal provides an “LGBTQ+ inclusive, medically accurate and … age-appropriate framework” for health and physical education in pre-K-12 public schools. The guidelines are divided into four different grade spans (pre-K–2, 3–5, 6-8 and 9–12).
  • The guidelines instruct pre-K–2 teachers to include instruction about gender-role stereotypes and their impacts, while grades 3-5 would learn about the differences between biological sex and gender identity. Classes about sexual activity, abstinence, contraception and the dimensions of sexual orientation begin in grades 6-8, with more specific guidelines related to STI testing, condoms and birth control in high school.
  • What it doesn’t do: The draft document emphasizes it does not dictate how teachers teach. “School districts have discretion to determine how the standards will be implemented,” it reads.
  • Zoom out: Massachusetts’ proposed update comes as many Republican-led states are moving to restrict schools from teaching about gender identity or sexual orientation. As NPR’s LifeKit reports, sex education often leaves out queer people.
  • What’s next: For now, the draft is just a draft. The vote today will move to open it up for public comment. After potential revisions, there’ll be a final vote later this summer or fall.

Newton police arrested a man last night suspected of the triple murder on Broadway Street on Sunday. Christopher Ferguson, 41, is due in court today on murder and assault charges.

  • Newton Police Chief John Carmichael says there is no connection so far between Ferguson and the elderly victims killed in their home. “Newton is a safe city, however this is a reminder that senseless acts of violence take place in cities such as ours,” the police chief said, reminding residents to remain vigilant.

Business as usual: Acting governor Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll signed a one-month spending bill Monday to keep the state government funded while the House and Senate work out their differences on the full budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 (aka Saturday).

  • Fun fact: The annual Massachusetts budget hasn’t been signed into law before July 1 since 2010, according to some historical accounting by WBUR’s Steve Brown.
  • Psst: Healey is scheduled to speak to the Irish Senate (the Seanad Éireann) today at 10 a.m. EST to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the country’s decriminalization of homosexuality. The address should be live-streamed here. (She’s also put up some less-than-subtle Pride Month billboards in Texas and Florida.)

Today was supposed to be the special Boston preliminary election to replace former District 8 City Councilor Kenzie Bok. Well, turns out it’s not happening. We’re heading straight to the special general election on July 25 since only two candidates qualified for the ballot: Sharon Durkan and Montez Haywood.

  • Another date to save: July 15 is the last day for residents in District 8 (which covers Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway and Mission Hill) to register to vote before the special election. (The seat will be up for grabs again —with a slightly different map — during this fall’s regular round of City Council elections.)

Need to escape the humidity this week? Frog Pond on Boston Common opens today, and will stay open through Labor Day.

P.S.— Here & Now is taking listeners across the country this week for a new series taking a closer look at impactful climate projects, both big and small. Check out episode one of “Reverse Course” here.

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly gave an incorrect first name for Boston City Council candidate Sharon Durkan. The error has been corrected.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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