The Miami-Dade County school board reversed itself again Thursday, voting to approve health and sex education textbooks for middle and high school students that have come to the fore in Florida’s battle over what is taught in schools.
It was not just a reversal of a previous decision, but a reversal of a reversal. Then the board approved the books in April by a vote of 5 to 3 rejected them last week in a 5-4 vote, raising the prospect that students would go months without any sex education program.
The denial was overturned another 5 to 4 vote.
“We’re relieved because what happened last week was essentially a ban on books and a ban on knowledge,” Lucia Baez-Geller, the board member who voted to approve the books, said in a phone interview. “This is a dangerous precedent for our students.”
The initial April approval of the books, titled “Comprehensive Health Skills,” sparked a wave of petitions citing the new state law, which supporters call a parental rights measure in education and opponents call it the “Don’t Say Gay” law. .
The measure, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in March, forbids teaching and discussing sexual orientation and gender for some elementary school students.
The law became one of the most prominent elements of the nationwide conservative movement “parental rights” central political issue while criticizing liberal approaches to teaching American history and sexual identity.
Miami-Dade’s textbooks cover both traditional sex education topics, such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as subjects such as stress management, drugs and alcohol.
“Much of the content is age-inappropriate, usurps parental rights, and is scientifically inaccurate and untrue,” Alex Serrano, director of Citizens for Freedom’s Miami-Dade chapter, said at a meeting last week.
The decisive changed vote Thursday was that of Perla Tabarez Hantman, the board’s chairwoman, who took the lead in calling the meeting to reconsider the earlier decision, Ms. Baez-Geller said.
Ms. Huntman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Ms. Baez-Geller said Ms. Huntman’s decision was based on her determination that the use of the books was necessary to meet state education standards.
Her voice allowed the dispute to be resolved, unless it was only a prelude to another reversal.
“I believe that after today, this issue will be put on the back burner,” Ms. Baez-Geller said. “I hope.”