Gwinnett County is adopting a new comprehensive sex education curriculum for the 2023 school year called HealthSmart. Mothers Denise Rumbaugh and Amy Cook disapprove of the new program and wish to keep the current course, Choosing the Best, which is less comprehensive than Healthsmart. The two spoke at the recent school board meeting on January 19th to voice their concerns.

“Under that program (Choosing the Best), Gwinnett’s teen pregnancy rate dropped roughly 75% from 2006 to 2021,” Rumbaugh said. “My concern is what will those numbers be using Health Smart, and why did GCPS decide to discontinue using Choosing the Best when it was clearly working to keep teen pregnancy and STDs low.”

Cook agreed with Rumbaugh and claimed most families in Gwinnett would disapprove of the new curriculum for religious reasons.

“There’s a lot of things that are included in the comprehensive sex education that are frankly pornographic,” she said. “We need to also be told what was wrong with the abstinence education.”

HealthSmart’s website reports that they offer two programs; one that focuses on abstinence and one that teaches safe sex while encouraging abstinence. Choosing the Best’s website said that their curriculum is fully abstinence-based.

Board member Dr. Mary Kay Murphy said many parents and teachers expressed concerns about both programs. According to Dr. Murphy, some parents said they were unaware of the new curriculum, and some students came home already enrolled in the pilot program without having the opportunity to opt out. Dr. Murphy had some questions for Superintendent Dr. Calvin Watts about transparency regarding adopting HealthSmart.

“Will parents and community members have another opportunity to review health education and sex education resources before the final evaluation and adoption?” she said. “How can parents have a voice in selecting materials that present conservative versus comprehensive sex education points of view?” 

Dr. Murphy discussed reconsidering the programs and allowing more time for community involvement by allowing parents to look through both curricula at home. Dr. Watts did not address the claims directly but said the board members have already discussed the programs.

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