A woman follows an anti-LGBT public comment at last Monday’s district board meeting with chants of “Trans Lives Matter,” before being walked outside by police. The cause of her outrage: a heated debate between defenders of AISD’s new sexual-education curriculum and those that oppose it. (Bella Russo)
A woman follows an anti-LGBT public comment at last Monday’s district board meeting with chants of “Trans Lives Matter,” before being walked outside by police. The cause of her outrage: a heated debate between defenders of AISD’s new sexual-education curriculum and those that oppose it.

Bella Russo

New curriculum, old debate

AISD board meeting turned battleground between defendants and opponents of new sex education curriculum

September 4, 2019

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A woman follows an anti-LGBT public comment at last Monday’s district board meeting with chants of “Trans Lives Matter,” before being walked outside by police. The cause of her outrage: a heated debate between defenders of AISD’s new sexual-education curriculum and those that oppose it.

Public commenters like Caryl Ayala, who co-founded Concerned Parents of Texas after AISD “decided to bring in Welcoming Schools, an LGBT program that normalizes homosexuality and transgenderism,” urged parents listening to fight against the curriculum that they feel promotes underage sex by opting their children out of sex-ed classes and lessons. Those on her side, many self-identifying as concerned citizens from outside the Austin area, were angered by a curriculum they described as “porn,” “indoctrinization,” and as taking “steps closer to pedophilia.”

“This district teaches kids to say no to drugs, alcohol, smoking, [and] vaping,” Ayala said to the board of trustees. “Why not sexual activity?

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Opposition to AISD's new sex education curriculum hold up posters during the Board Meetings public commentary.

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Defenders of the district’s new sex-ed curriculum argued that last year’s changes made to its content benefited all students by teaching inclusive lessons about diverse families, gender identity and sexual orientation. They also argued that these lessons were nowhere near as graphic or harmful to students of any age as their opposition claim and to make these lessons less inclusive of LGBT issues would be discrimination. McCallum parent Susanne Kerns of Informed Parents of Austin used her two minutes of comment to reassure parents that the curriculum was doing right by their children.

“Kids of all ages deserve to know that their feelings are normal and healthy, no matter who they feel them about,” Kerns said. “I do agree with these groups that parents and caregivers should be actively involved in sex ed discussion. It’s a shame that many choose not to. And for those kids, these lessons will serve as a lifeline of critical health information. They will literally save lives.”

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The next board meeting available for public comment will be Sept. 23. More information regarding past and future meetings can be found at austinisd.org.

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1 Comment

One Response to “New curriculum, old debate”

  1. Nicky Ryan on September 16th, 2019 10:52 am

    As a teacher at AISD and a parent I approve of the material being taught at the elementary grade level (the only level I am familiar with). I don’t teach about “sex” just about organs and organ systems, as well as their uses. I do feel teaching about how human beings procreate to make the human race is an appropriate topic for middle school and beyond especially since their bodies are at the age in which that is a possibility. Anti-drug programs don’t make kids want to pick up drugs just because they heard about them any more than sex education is going to make someone not interested in that activity all of a sudden become interested. I will say as a teacher of 8 years most students are learning about sex and drugs through their friends, unbeknown to their parents, and have many many misconceptions due to the lack of correct information. Sexual health and responsibility should absolutely be taught about at home but for many many students it is not discussed at all by parents and guardians other than “don’t engage in sexual activity.” This does not allow for a space for kids to ask embarrassing questions because they feel shamed for wanting to know the answer anyways. However there are some homes that do a great jobs at giving their children a very well rounded view of human sexuality and responsibility, unfortunately that is not the norm.

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