School officials in Austin, Texas, have made changes to the sex-education curriculum for middle school students – and a lot of parents are not happy with the results.
Planned Parenthood, one of the backers of the new plan, called it “LGBTQ inclusive, science-based and much needed,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.
A group called Texas Values led the opposition to the plan – and says it intends to fight its passage, which came in a unanimous vote early Tuesday morning after a large crowd gathered Monday night for the school board’s meeting.
TEXAS WANTS TO MOVE AWAY FROM ABSTINENCE-ONLY SEX ED, MAY TEACH SEXUAL HEALTH AS EARLY AS KINDERGARTEN
The values group claims to have collected petition signatures from 5,000 people who oppose the curriculum – though Austin’s KEYE-TV reported that parents can block their children from taking any or all of the lessons.
David Walls, a parent and vice president of Texas Values, told the newspaper that his group believes the plan encourages students to engage in same-sex relationships.
“It’s not appropriate for school,” Walls said. “It’s not appropriate for a government body to encourage students to engage in any kind of sexual activity.”
On Thursday, Texas Values posted a Twitter message mocking the school board’s preference for the gender-neutral term “parent” over “mother” and “father.”
“What’s so scary about mom and dad?” the group wrote, using a Halloween theme.
Community member Barbara Bucklin told Austin radio station KUT that “gender identity” didn’t seem an appropriate topic for young children.
“Should you be suggesting to a 5-year-old or an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old that maybe they’re not a girl?” Bucklin asked.
“Should you be suggesting to a 5-year-old or an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old that maybe they’re not a girl?”
— Barbara Bucklin, opponent of sex-ed curriculum changes
But Michelle Rusnak, the district’s health and physical education supervisor, said the goal of the plan is to represent LGBTQ views fairly, not to impose them.
“It’s about acceptance,” she told the American-Statesman.
“It’s about acceptance.”
— Michelle Rusnak, school district’s health and physical education supervisor
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, school officials had already made changes to the revised curriculum proposal based on parents’ input, according to the newspaper.
For example, officials agreed to delay discussions of sexual orientation and HIV until fifth grade, rather than third grade. They also deleted the term “anal sex” from a lesson about preventing HIV and STDs, although the term is used in a lesson on abstinence, and they canceled a video that included depictions of gay and mixed-race couples.
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“There’s no doubt that the topic of sex education in public schools elicits strong reactions,” board member Kristin Ashy told the crowd Monday night. “Tonight offers itself as an example of these reactions.”
Students whose parents approve of the plan will begin learning the new lessons in May, reports said.