Students plan walkout over health curriculum


Philip Chan

Students marchers filled the West Linn courtyard on March 14 2018.

A group of West Linn students advocating for changes to district health curriculum is calling for a student walkout.

The event, which organizers say will be held at the end of third period, on Monday, Feb. 4, comes as the culmination of a contentious process that began in 2015, when the Oregon legislature bolstered what was already one of the most vigorous and in-depth health curricula in the nation.

The new curriculum, which includes more focus on consent, sexual assault, and gender identities or sexual orientations beyond heterosexual and cisgender people, has been slowly designed and implemented across the state.

Included in the new health curriculum were required lessons on consent, which lead to the creation of “academic seminar” sessions held on early release Wednesdays.

The updated curriculum comes in the midst of a national conversation on mental health, sexual assualt and LGBTQ rights, spurred by a diverse range of political events, from nationwide protests against gun violence and increased focus on mental health, to strikes in Los Angeles partially over lack of medical staff availability in schools, to the Me Too movement, to President Trump’s ban on transgender soldiers. This fraught political climate has helped make the implementation of these policies especially controversial.

At a school board meeting on Dec. 3, 2018, some parents voiced their displeasure with the updated curriculum, and the process for implementing it.

Though parents were regularly contacted during the process of designing curriculum, students were given only one opportunity to speak with members of the district or board, a 35-minute meeting with school board member Dylan Hydes attended by roughly 20 members of West linn’s associated student body, West Linn United, and West Linn Gender Sexuality Alliance.  

The walkout, an outgrowth of a letter-writing campaign organized by West Linn United and West Linn GSA, calls for a defense and expansion of the new curriculum.

Organizer Kamerin Villagomez, junior, provided the following statement.

“This Monday, the West Linn community will decide whether or not to adopt Oregon’s current Health Standards. These standards include:

– Consent
– Sexual Assault
– Gender Identity and Gender Expression Information
– Information about Sexuality
– STD’s and Safe-Sex (Not JUST Abstinence)

We would like to organize a last minute walkout this Monday (Feb 4th) during third period.

We would love if you could contact everyone you believe would be interested in this event, letting them know that this is a walkout for the sexual, mental, and physical health of West Linn students.

We would love if you could bring posters and WEAR BLUE. Thank you!”

The event is not sponsored by West Linn High School administration, and, in accordance with school policy, students missing class for the walkout will be considered absent from class. 

Organizers also shared a graphic on social media, calling for students to walk out.