Forms, forms, everywhere forms ... but they're important

Updated: Nov 1

By Beth Olson

Dear Parents,

Are you drowning in school forms? Do you feel like the classroom portal could defeat you at any moment?

Then do I have good news for you!

… ok, that’s a lie. I don’t have life-changing news. I just wanted your attention. I’m actually giving you a heads up about another school form that requires a parent signature — an opt-in form for sex education.

Many of you received a letter about sex education at school registration this summer. However, I’m actually talking about a separate document you’ll find online or buried in your child’s backpack at least two weeks before starting sex ed. (State law now requires a letter at the beginning of school and a separate opt-in form during the school year.)

I know. It’s really confusing. Let me explain.

Texas parents have always received notification about their schools’ sex education policy and curriculum. They have always had the final say on whether or not their children participate in school-based sex education — they could opt out. Now, state law requires parents to provide written consent and opt in to sex education. In other words, your children cannot participate in sex ed unless the school has your written consent.

A similar law passed during a special session last year that also requires an opt-in form before teaching about child abuse prevention, family violence, dating violence, and human trafficking. This will likely be separate from the sex education form, so watch for both.

Long and short of it is that you’ll be drowning in more forms this year, but I think we can all agree these are incredibly important subjects. And look at the bright side — if you’re constantly looking for new opt-in forms, your child’s backpack is less likely to turn into a permanent home for old snacks and wet glue.

To learn more about sex education in Texas, go to Texas Is Ready. It’s a fabulous resource for parents and schools.

Beth Olson is director of adolescent health initiatives for Prosper Waco.