In rural Waller ISD, located just outside Houston, parents have objected to a potential health text, the Goodheart-Willcox “Comprehensive Health Skills for High School.” The text refers to pregnant persons, gender identity, and social justice activism, and advises that students research reproductive healthcare (often a code word for abortion).
A unanimous vote of 6-0 by the Waller ISD school board on Monday night ensured that Waller ISD will not use the Goodheart-Willcox text in its high school health classes.
When the Texas State Board of Education approved new state standards for health curriculums called TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) last year, they only approved one text for use—Goodheart-Willcox—but did not mandate that schools utilize it. Each school district may opt out of the suggested curriculum and choose its own.
Additionally, although a health course is a requirement for graduation in some school districts, it is not required by Texas law.
Waller ISD father Josh Posey told Texas Scorecard, “Last night’s unanimous win in Waller ISD was the culmination of months of research, hours away from home, and more sacrifices than what could be listed, all in the defense of truth in our community.”
Posey added, “This was the second major victory parents won, as last month Waller ISD voted to remove Health as a requirement to graduate. We hope Waller ISD can be an example for more school districts across the state with both of these victories for families, parents, and students.”
Now, Waller ISD—with input from parents on the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC)—will choose an alternative curriculum for high school health classes before school resumes next month.
According to Posey, “One [school] board member accused us of being activists, as a pejorative statement. To that I say, why is being active in your students’ education being seen as a bad thing? We are active parents and community members. Isn’t that what’s best for students?”
He went on to say, “Thankfully, a handful of board members appreciated the information we had brought forward and the light that shined on darkness, but some were still very resistant, despite us becoming experts in this field. So, unfortunately, we are still in a position where the government thinks they know better than parents. We are hopeful the love and concern we have for our kids will be loud enough to get through to them eventually.”
Although this is a major win for parents in Waller, Posey acknowledges that the war is far from over.
“It was also asked of us that we not be so public in the future with problems we find in the district. We let them know that a school board meeting is our last stop when the issues aren’t resolved at the levels below them,” said Posey.
Posey and fellow parents have called for a public investigation into some of the “mishandling of information and clear ethical violations” that occurred with the SHAC. In fact, the SHAC was reset in May following determinations that it was out of compliance with the prescribed—by law—processes.
“It’s clear not all problems in the district will be resolved, and because of this dangerous cycle, we can expect to see the board again,” warned Posey. “But for now, Waller ISD students won’t have the same confusion as many others in our state when they’re asked, ‘What is a woman?’”
Concerned citizens can contact their local school board for information on their health texts and curriculum.