FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – It was a late night for members of the Broward County Public School Board, while they discussed controversial coursework and tensions ran high during the conversation.
One speaker was taken away by police during the meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday.
“Those statistics go up, new cases of HIV, AIDS, go up, if we are not educating our children about what it means to engage in sexual intercourse in science-based ways,” said one woman who spoke to board members.
“Start to teach our children that ‘Mostly girls have vulvas and mostly boys have penises’. Well, that’s not true,” said another woman.
Parents and other participants in the meeting clashed over a revised sexual education curriculum for Broward County students.
Hundreds of pages covered a myriad of topics, from healthy habits and basic anatomy for elementary schoolers, and reproduction and sex for middle and high school students.
“This topic has been very controversial,” said another speaker. “Since this school board, just a couple of months ago, couldn’t define what a woman is.”
“We owe all of our children intellectual honesty, accurate information and knowledge, and a knowledge base that will enable them to make informed decisions about their health,” said one man.
After several years with one curriculum set in place, the district scrapped sex education altogether for the 2022-23 school year.
Now with revisions to comply with the Parental Rights in Education Law, known by detractors as the “Don’t Say Gay” Law, the board passed a new plan on Tuesday.
For elementary school students, some of the dozens of lessons include boundaries and seeking help, basic anatomy and societal gender roles for boys and girls.
For middle schoolers, the lessons include changes in adolescence, reproductive systems and gender stereotypes.
For high schoolers, the curriculum will cover topics such as dating, gender identity, pregnancy prevention, consent and STDs.
The curriculum passed with 5-4 votes, but it now awaits approval from the state.
“We gotta offer this, it’s been a year and we’ll progress as the state requires us,” said Broward Schools Superintendent Peter Licata.
Another big change arose during the meeting, as the Promise Program has been canceled, at least on the official books.
“There’s a lot of historical, I don’t want to say baggage, but there’s a lot of history behind this program,” Licata added.
The program diverts students who commit minor misdemeanors from the court system. But it drew fire when it was discovered that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz participated, although he never finished the program.
The superintendent said children won’t be abandoned; However, not everyone was convinced.
“Changes in services are not happening, we’re gonna offer the same services, we’re actually going to look into doing more proactivity,” he said.
“We’re going to see suspensions, expulsions, and all in many cases, for one incident,” said Marsha Ellison, president of the Fort Lauderdale-Broward Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The BCPS School Board said they are working on making an alternative for the Promise Program, but the services will stay as is until they’re able to change it.
If you’d like to read the full sex-ed curriculum, click here and scroll down to page six.
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