Children in Austin as young as 8 years old will now be taught to promote high-risk sexual behavior, thanks to a unanimous decision by the Austin Independent School District.

Just after midnight Tuesday, the AISD board approved a controversial sex education curriculum amid a crowd of concerned parents and citizens.

The district’s new curriculum includes role-playing scenarios for children that involve anal and oral sex and features a situation where an underage girl has a sexual relationship with a 17-year old that she hides from her parents.

The curriculum also teaches about numerous sexual orientations; children are told that their gender is based on their feelings rather than their biological sex, and they are encouraged to “challenge homophobia” by attending LGBT pride parades. Lesson plans also instruct teachers to use gender-neutral pronouns and avoid only using “binaries” such as “mom” and “dad.”

The lessons are aimed at elementary and middle school-aged children in grades three through eight.

At the school board meeting Monday night, over 100 people testified on the issue, most opposing the controversial lessons.

“[This curriculum] promotes a radical ideology that is in opposition to the values most Austin parents and families hold,” said AISD parent David Walls, vice president of the pro-family advocacy group Texas Values. “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.”

“The bigger picture is to normalize these behaviors and to teach them to children so that they can feel okay with engaging in these behaviors, but they are not,” said Caryl Ayala, director of Concerned Parents of Texas. “No child should be engaged in any kind of sexual activity.”

“Tonight, you might think that your legacy might be inclusion,” Jennifer Fleck, a candidate for Texas House, told the school board. “But the truth is that confusing a child’s sexuality and gender will provide a legacy of destruction.”

Prior to the meeting, Texas Values hosted a press conference outside of the board room with a crowd of supporters—but they were abruptly disrupted when several protestors began shouting and playing kazoos and sirens. One disrupter was even detained by the police.

Despite the chaos, however, parents still spoke out in defense of their children.

“I’m concerned because the curriculum is very advanced, and some parents feel that it is not age-appropriate,” said parent M.J. Alvardo. “It introduces and normalizes advanced sexual behaviors to children at a very young age, and perhaps places ideas in their mind that might not have been there before and can potentially lead to some early and unhealthy sexual behaviors.”

AISD has uploaded drafts of the curriculum online (for grades third through fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth), and the lessons are set to begin districtwide in May. Parents can opt their children out but must do so by March.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.