Nashville CARES, Metro Schools resolve Survivor Club issue

Nashville CARES will continue to offer its Survivor Club peer-education class to students in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Just not on school campuses.

The education class, which features frank and graphic discussions of sex and sexuality, has been at the center of a controversy since a Hillsboro High School parent complained about it to educators. Members of a leadership class were participating in the club’s program, which was being taught on campus, rather than being held at an off-site location, to facilitate participation.

A parental release form was required for participants, but one student didn’t turn hers back in; it was her father who complained about the subject matter.

At that point, conservative groups weighed in with their thoughts on the “homosexual agenda” in the public schools, and CARES officials found themselves on the defensive regarding the Survivor Club and their longstanding role as outreach educators to local teens.

After an appearance before the school board that featured commentary from all sides, the schools and CARES have reached an agreement that will allow for the agency to continue its role of public education at all levels in the school system.

“Patrick Luther, the director of prevention education with Nashville CARES, and I discussed the MNPS Family Life and Sexuality Education policy, state law and curriculum standards, as well as the recent events at Hillsboro High School,” said Tina Bozeman, health and wellness education coordinator for Metro Schools, on April 22 after meeting with Luther.

“This is the only time the Survivor Club has been offered in a classroom setting as part of a course,” said Luther. “In other schools, Survivor Club has been an after hours, off-campus activity for students who participate with parental permission.”

The Survivor Club training includes more explicit information than the district’s wellness classes. Wellness teachers are well versed in district policies and state laws governing appropriate content, according to Bozeman.

Going forward, school counselors or wellness teachers may refer students who wish to be involved in Survivors Club to Nashville CARES, where they can participate in a club setting outside of school. Nashville CARES will continue to present its district-approved HIV 101 and First Person programs in school wellness classes.

"Nashville CARES will find a convenient, accessible location ensuring Hillsboro High School Leadership Class students who want to complete their Survivor Club training can do that off school property. We look forward to supporting Nashville's future leaders as they make meaningful impacts today on issues important to them," said Luther.

“We are confident we can work together in the future for the benefit of all of our students,” said Bozeman.

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