Florida is leading the way for revamped, restrictive education standards that focus on barring gender and sex discussions from the youngest age groups, and as deemed inappropriate for all others. Because of these new measures set forth in the recent passing of what has been dubbed the Don’t Say Gay law, school districts across the state have been busy reassessing lessons and class materials, to comply with the new law. Last week, the state’s largest school district made national headlines for rejecting all sex ed curriculum textbooks. Now just a week, later, the district has reversed that decision.
Last week, the Miami-Dade school board appeased upset parents’ disapproval of the district’s sex ed textbooks for middle and high schoolers. Parents referred to the state’s newly enacted Parental Rights in Education law, known to critics as the Don’t Say Gay Act. Within this law, schools are barred from classroom discussions and the use of material that may be considered inappropriate at any age level. Now, after the decision to reject them made national headlines for leaving the fourth largest school district in the nation ultimately without any material to teach sex education to teens, the district reversed that decision and approved the material.
Florida schools are not required to teach sex education by law. However, they are mandated to teach extensive health education, which covers many sex and reproductive topics, which is likely why the district may have reversed its decision and allowed schools to use the sex ed textbooks. So late into the year, last week’s rejection would have left schools unable to instruct students in health class properly under state standards. When discussing their decision to rescind last week’s rejection, the board noted that parents can opt their children out of the class if they wish.
Likewise, the board asserted that schools need to stay on top of making parent’s aware that they can opt their children out if they feel the information within the sex ed textbooks is inappropriate for their kids. They also noted that parents can access the books online, but assured them that any material within that may not be age-appropriate will not be made accessible, even in the classroom. The book being criticized by many parents is published by Goodheart-Willcox and is titled Comprehensive Health Skills. It was ridiculed for sensitive, contentious content.
While the sex ed textbook rounded out health curriculums with topics like nutrition and physical activity, skeptics focused on the sexual ed portion, which they deemed inappropriate for a variety of reasons. For one, anti-vaxxers pointed to a portion of the content referencing viral infections and STDs that can be prevented through various vaccinations. Others opposed the text’s reference to contraception as a means to prevent pregnancy. Still, in rescinding the decision and allowing the text to be used, the block on the most controversial chapters that discuss gender identity and sexual orientation remain blocked for the district’s classes and will not be taught to students.
The quick decision to reverse the measure and allow the Miami district to use the sex ed textbooks was met with fury by those who opposed and pushed for the board to reject them in the first place. Now, some critics say the district is in non-compliance with transparency issues considering the decision was made so close to the start of school. Others were glad that the board rescinded their rejection, ultimately leaving the decision in the hands of each individual parent.