Miami-Dade School Board Rejects New Textbooks With Sex Ed Curriculum

Facing pressure from parents empowered by a new state education law, the Miami-Dade County School Board backtracked by adopting two new textbooks for the upcoming school year, leaving students without sex education program for the next few months.

The board had voted 5-3 in April to adopt the textbooks, but its decision was met with a number of petitions opposing the parents’ decision citing a new state law that supporters call the Rights Measure parenting in education, but which opponents call the “Don’t Say Gay” Act.

The outcry prompted a hearing in June. The district superintendent appointed a hearing officer to hear from the petitioners, who recommended that the school board reject the petitions and move forward with adopting the textbooks. On Wednesday, the board voted 5-4 not to approve the new textbooks.

The school board’s decision is the latest development in the history of how Florida’s curriculum has been shaped since Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation in March that bans classroom instruction and discussion of orientation and gender identity in some primary grades.

Wednesday’s vote was not the first time a program was rejected in Florida. In April, the state rejected 42 of 132 math textbooks for use in public schools, citing “banned subjects.”

The textbooks in question Wednesday — the middle and high school editions of “Comprehensive Health Skills” — cover topics such as preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and understanding sexuality. The books also deal with drugs and alcohol, stress management and relationships.

Karla Hernández-Mats, president of the United Teachers of Dade, said in a statement Wednesday that she was disappointed to see the council reverse its April decision, adding that “the voices of extremist individuals with political agendas” will not should not dictate what students learn.

“We are troubled by the continued attempt by extremist groups to censor the books,” she said. “Our teachers are partners with parents and believe they should continue to be able to remove their children from content they are not comfortable with. We respect the voice of parents and the choices they make for their children and not for other people’s children.

Alex Serrano, director of the Miami-Dade chapter of County Citizens Defending Freedom, spoke out at the meeting against adopting the manuals because, he said, the material could violate state law. Florida.

“Much of the content is not age-appropriate, infringes parental rights, and is scientifically inaccurate and not factual,” Serrano said.

Wednesday’s school board meeting, which lasted several hours, became tense at times. At one point, a woman was escorted away by police officers and at another point, school board members asked for a five-minute break after drawing several jeers from those present.

After the break, VP Steve Gallon III noted that of more than 40 people who spoke at the meeting, 38 were in favor of the new manuals.

“That’s 90 percent of the speakers who took the floor today – you do the math,” Gallon said. “This data, for me, provides a greater opportunity to debunk and expose this narrative that there is this broad opposition to council adoption of these materials.”

Marika Lynch, a mother of three, spoke out at the meeting in favor of adopting the textbooks, saying “the stakes are really too high”.

“We want kids to be prepared when the time comes,” Ms Lynch said. “Do you prefer that this information is given to them by their teachers, who are trained to do so in an age-appropriate way? Or do you prefer that they get the information on their phone? »

Kahlil Sankara, who attended Miami-Dade public schools before graduating from Florida International University, told the meeting that he never received any sex education growing up. Mr Sankara said he had friends in the area who had contracted HIV, while other friends had babies in middle school or high school.

“I think the results were detrimental to me and my community,” Mr Sankara said. “It didn’t prepare us for anything other than instilling fear and a lack of proper knowledge.”

Because Florida state law requires that approved reproductive health educational materials be made available for public review and comment, Lourdes Diaz, academic director of Miami-Dade Public Schools, said that it would be some time before new material could be approved, leaving students without this program for now.