Turlock Unified School District’s decision to enlist Turlock Pregnancy Center’s Community Education Director Jeanette Fanconi for sex education has recently been met with mixed emotions from parents within the District.
Due to her position at TPC, the idea of contracting Fanconi has been met with apprehension from at least one parent, who brings up concerns about TPC teaching the state mandated HIV/AIDS curriculum to all seventh graders in the District.
According to the parent, “they claim to be following ED Code, but the fact is they are way out of compliance while they push their own agenda.”
TPC is a private non-profit which advocates against abortion. On their website, the organization states that it believes that “abortion compounds rather than solves the crisis of an unexpected pregnancy.”
However, not all parents are voicing concerns, but are instead applauding the District’s decision to enlist Fanconi for sex education.
“I definitely think it’s a great idea,” said parent Christina Perez. “I myself was a teen parent and I got pregnant at 14, mostly because I didn’t know and I wasn’t comfortable enough to go to my parents,” said Perez.
“So if they are like me and they can’t go to their parents, where can they go?” Perez asked.
Perez believes that Fanconi should merit nothing but approval from parents, as she is able to provide the facts that students need to hear in order to be safe.
“Kids are more likely to listen to a third person than to their own parents,” laughed Perez.
According to TUSD Director of Student Services Gil Ogden, Fanconi’s presentation, called “REALity Check,” should not warrant any concern.
“I have been very impressed with Jeanette and her compassion in working with TUSD students to make a difference,” said Ogden. “Her program ‘REALity Check’ is fundamental to the growth and development of character and positive relationships.
“Its result has been an increase in not only social and emotional capacity of our students, but the relationship skills and awareness that will improve their resilience to deal with adversity,” Ogden continued. “We have received nothing but positive feedback from teachers, administrators, students, and parents about the presentations.”
Fanconi has been hosting “REALity Check” presentations for approximately three years, since the District received a referral from David Klein, Turlock Junior High School’s principal at the time. The principal’s referral was soon backed up by others in the county as the program was being offered at multiple sites already.
According to Ogden, the program falls under the state standards for Growth and Development, which is taught by school nurses at the elementary level. Due to the District’s shortage of nurses for its 14,000 students, however, TUSD had to look beyond the District to provide sex education at the middle school level.
The ability of the District to enlist Fanconi for her presentation is backed by TUSD Board Policy 6142.1, which states that “the Superintendent or designee may contract outside consultants with expertise in comprehensive in sexual health or HIV/AIDS prevention education to deliver the instruction.”
Fanconi can be considered a consultant with expertise, as she is the Community Education Director at TPC, a professor at Modesto Junior College and California State University, Stanislaus, and a teacher at Denair Charter Academy.
Additionally, she oversees the Teen Parent Program, the Towards No Drug Abuse Program, and Project Alert, which is a substance abuse prevention program for seventh and eighth graders. She possesses a Multiple Subject Clear Credential, a Child Development Program Director Permit, and a Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist Credential.
According to Ogden, the topics covered in the “REALity Check” presentations are abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases and fetal development. The curriculum also includes character education, a component that helps students understand that sex has consequences, the difference between needs and desires, recognizing media influences, and discovering reasons to wait.
Throughout the presentation, students are exposed to medical facts that are associated with the most common sexually transmitted diseases, information on fetal development from the conception of a baby through birth, and a brief, medically accurate discussion on abortion.
“The Growth and Development instruction will benefit students by providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect them from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and to encourage students to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles, sexual orientation, dating, marriage, and family,” said Ogden.
Students at DMS and TJHS are not alone in with their participation in “REALity Check,” as a number of neighboring school sites are also hosting the presentations, including Hughson High School, Turlock Christian Junior High School, Waterford High School and Denair Charter School among others.
“The presenters of the 'REALity Check' program understand that the subject matter that will be discussed is sensitive, and make every effort to present the matter at age appropriate levels,” said Ogden.
Parents are encouraged to contact Fanconi at firstname.lastname@example.org to review all materials prior to giving consent. Consent letters are sent home in English and Spanish before each presentation.