A school district in Austin, Texas, has adopted a new sex education curriculum that aims to “demonstrate and promote dignity and respect for all people.”
The new curriculum will affect students in third through eighth grade and will include discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Austin Independent School District approved the curriculum Tuesday morning despite considerable opposition.
“It promotes a radical ideology that is in opposition to the values most Austin parents and families hold,” David Walls, vice president of Texas Values who is also an AISD parent, said according to KVUE-TV.
“There is a resounding concern that this radical, hyper-sexualized sex education is going to be problematic for the future generations of kids in this city.”
Although the new curriculum doesn’t begin defining the difference between biological sex and gender identity until the fifth grade, lessons of inclusivity are required in both grades three and four.
In the fifth grade, students will learn the difference between gender identity, attraction, biological sex and gender expression through an illustration called “The Genderbread Person.”
“We wanted the curriculum to be inclusive because, as you’ve heard in Austin ISD, all means all, and we want every student being exposed to our curriculum to see themselves within that curriculum,” Kathy Ryan, the school district’s director of academics said, according to KVUE.
The curriculum also includes lessons about pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted diseases and consent.
“It’s the information that all kids need to keep themselves physically and mentally safe throughout their entire lives,” Belynda Montgomery of Informed Parents of Austin, a group that advocates for inclusive policies within Austin ISD, said.
The curriculum was unanimously approved by the district’s board of trustees Tuesday morning, according to the school’s website.
Austin ISD is providing an option for parents to opt their children out of the curriculum, which will be provided at least three weeks prior to instruction, but they are still facing opposition from parents and groups that hold more conservative beliefs.
Caryl Ayala, director of Concerned Parents of Texas, is worried that the new curriculum may have bigger consequences than just informing students about these controversial issues.
“The bigger picture is to normalize these behaviors and to teach them to children so that they can feel OK with engaging in these behaviors, but they are not,” he said. “No child should be engaged in any kind of sexual activity.”
Some parents, however, are just concerned that the weightiness of LGBT issues may be too much for the students in the grade levels the curriculum is built for.
“I get the sensitivities around the LGBT issues,” Matt Pennies, an Austin ISD parent, said according to the Austin American-Statesman.
“I tried to say this, but I was drowned out by the chaos — even in a strictly heterosexual context, this content is just so aggressive. It’s just so much, so soon.”
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