Majority of Michigan Parents in Favor of Expanding Health Education in Schools

Approximately 5.21 million mothers and 214,000 fathers identify as stay-at-home parents, but even those who do have recently spoken up about the lack of important material covered in their children's health education.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health has revealed that in addition to being comfortable with schools teaching kids about drugs, alcohol, and sex, parents want more from health education programs.

Two-thirds of parents polled say schools should place more coverage on mental and emotional health issues -- including such subjects as dealing with depression, stress, and bullying -- but only about one-third of parents report their children's schools covering these topics at all.

Another 68% of parents want to see schools cover topics such as basic first aid and CPR.

"Most parents today support traditional health education topics like pregnancy prevention, drug abuse, and other risk behaviors ... However, they clearly perceive a gap between what their children need and what they are receiving in the area of mental health education, as well as basic first aid and CPR," said Sarah Clark, M.P.H., co-director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

While topics like sex education and drug abuse were once controversial, parental acceptance and push for more topics to be covered are both signs of a changing educational landscape.

In fact, on Wednesday, September 14, the Michigan State Board of Education voted six to two to approve new voluntary guidance to assist schools in the creation of safer and more accepting school environments for LGBT students.

This vote comes as a landmark decision for Michigan.

"We’re providing a roadmap for schools across Michigan to ensure that all our kids are safe in school and put in a position to succeed," said State Board of Education President John Austin in a statement.

The guidelines include having policies that protect LGBT+ students from harassment, providing age-appropriate education information on LGBT issues, using preferred names and pronouns that correspond to the student's personal gender identity, and allowing students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity or a single-use bathroom.

According to the Michigan Department of Education, approximately 12% of LGBT+ youth didn't attend school at some point in the last year because they feared for their safety.

In addition, 29% of LGBT+ youth have attempted suicide in the last year.

Statistics like these play a large role in parental concerns, especially for those parents who want more mental health education covered in their child's health classes.

"Most parents believe schools are on the right track with what kids are learning in health education, but recognize that today's youth face a growing set of issues impacting their health," Clark said.

For full story, pick up a copy of the MONTH XX issue of The Allegan County News/The Union Enterprise/The Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition.

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