Home Education Miami school board reverses itself and approves sex textbook

Miami school board reverses itself and approves sex textbook

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MIAMI (AP) — The board of Florida’s largest school district has reversed a decision it made last week that rejected a new sex…

MIAMI (AP) — The board of Florida’s largest school district has reversed a decision it made last week that rejected new sex education textbooks for middle and high school students.

The debate over sex education materials in Miami comes as school districts and boards navigate the new landscape in Florida classrooms about what content officials deem appropriate.

Miami-Dade County has the fourth largest public school system in the nation with 334,000 students.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed new laws this year that prohibit teachers from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation with third-graders and younger students and limit the discussion of race.

The Miami-Dade School Board approved the textbooks after chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman changed her mind this week, citing the district’s need to adhere to state standards and curriculum requirements.

“It’s my duty, it’s my responsibility to make sure our school district is running properly,” Huntman said. “Regardless of my personal beliefs, and I have very strong personal beliefs and principles, I have to make sure that our district complies with the law.”

The chairman added that the books are online and age-inappropriate content is not available. She clarified that parents are also allowed to opt out of sex education lessons for their children, instructing school officials to make a serious effort to notify parents.

“Parents’ rights will be respected every step of the way,” Huntman said.

Comprehensive Health Skills, published by Goodheart-Willcox of Illinois, is available in various middle and high school versions, with topics including nutrition, physical activity, and sexually transmitted diseases, as required by county human reproduction and disease units. . .

The board first adopted the textbooks in April in a 5-3 vote, but their content was challenged by parents, who cited the Parental Rights Act signed by DeSantis in March. The new state law, which some critics are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, bans teaching related to gender identity or sexual orientation in grades K through 3 “or in an age-inappropriate manner.” Other objections to the text came from vaccine advocates, who objected to references to how vaccinations can prevent viral infections. Others objected to content about contraception and abortion.

In April, the board voted to ask the publisher to remove sections that cover gender and sexual orientation, among other topics. Faced with public pressure earlier this month, the board reversed itself and rejected the book. On Thursday, to the surprise of some, the council reversed itself again to adopt the text but keep access to the more controversial sections blocked.

Thursday’s vote was the third on the textbooks, with opposition members complaining they were surprised the issue was brought up for a vote again after they had already agreed on it last week.

“If you support this clause, you don’t support transparency,” said Lubi Navarro, one of the participants who oppose the textbooks. “The public has a right to be properly heard in this matter.”

The school board’s attorney said at the meeting that the reversal of last week’s vote was allowed.

Before the vote, Alex Serrano of the Miami-Dade branch of a group called County Citizens Defending Freedom said the district could set an example for other school systems to develop a new, relevant curriculum.

He said his group “firmly believes that with significant parental and community involvement, we can achieve human reproduction and disease education that is age-appropriate, scientifically accurate, and consistent with all relevant laws related to parental rights.” Serrano said.

Community members in attendance did not expect a change of heart.

Amanda Altman, CEO of Kristi House, a Miami-based nonprofit that helps traumatized children, said she was “pleasantly surprised.” Altman supported the adoption of textbooks.

“That’s why we have school systems, it’s evidence-based. Let’s trust the facts, let’s trust the system,” Altman told the Associated Press.

Altman said she was concerned about removing content about gender identity and sexual orientation, though she understands the difficult position the board faces.

“I understand the school board’s concern, but I also see the damage to kids when they face a lot of bullying and backlash for being who they are,” she said.

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