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by Colby Robertson
MERRILL (WAOW) -- In Merrill, a heated debate over whether sex ed should be taught this coming school year. School leaders say in the past they've taught an abstinence only program, but a new state law makes that illegal.
It's a debate Merrill parents are passionate about and unless the school board decides to remove sex education classes from curriculum, this new law would come into play.
Dorly Dahlke has four kids in the Merrill School District. She feels it's her job as a parent to sit down and talk to her kids about sex, not the schools.
Dahlke says, "There are lots of things in the curriculum depending on who teaches it, who the person coming into teach it, there are other entities coming in from the outside who are wanting to come in here and I don't feel as if those entities should be our authorities on sex education."
The new law requires school districts to provide students with a more comprehensive curriculum that includes information about contraception and sexually-transmitted diseases. It means abstinence only programs, like Merrill's, are no longer allowed.
Merrill Superintendent Dr. Lisa Snyder says, "If we continue with that policy they have to comply with the new laws, if not they would basically be saying we're not going to teach human growth and development at all. We would be required by law to notify our parents of that and it would be up to parents to get that information."
Since word of this change hit the streets, Merrill school leaders have been flooded with questions, concerns and comments from parents.
Dr. Snyder says, "There are people that feel very strongly that parents should have the obligation and the right to educate their children in the manner that they wish and then of course there are people who feel very strongly on the other end that all students deserve accurate, factual information on this topic."
Dahlke says she's happy with the current human growth and development curriculum and the law shouldn't dictate what he kids are taught in school.
Dahlke says, "The law is stating you have all that information or none. We can't do what we're currently doing and really what we're doing now is a really sufficient job."
The board will make the final decision during an open meeting September 27th. Merrill's sex ed curriculum is only taught in the spring, so the decision won't impact classes that start next week.
Also, if the board comply's with this new law, parents will get an outline of the curriculum. That means parents will also be allowed to pull their students from certain classes they feel are inappropriate.
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