Controversial sex education teachings are once again dominating discussions at the Texas agency charged with setting public school curriculum standards.
Texas’ State Board of Education is meeting this week to consider and vote on revisions to public education standards—known as Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)—for science, physical education, and health education.
As they did at the SBOE meeting in June, leftist advocacy groups turned out on Tuesday to testify in favor of adding highly sexualized “LGBTQ+” and pro-abortion material to the health curriculum taught to Texas kids, calling it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to change course.”
Parents and professionals who prefer public schools to teach abstinence and sexual risk avoidance also testified to the board.
Texas Education Code Section 28.004 currently requires any course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality to emphasize abstinence, but otherwise gives local control to school districts to determine the content of their sex-ed instruction (if any).
The draft health education standards being considered and voted on this week continue to focus on abstinence first and do not include the radical sex-education content pushed by leftist activists called “comprehensive sex education.”
State law also requires each school district to establish a School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) made up of parents, students, and staff “to assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district’s health education instruction.”
But parent Jorge Ordonez told SBOE members Tuesday that his values weren’t respected by Austin Independent School District’s SHAC, explaining he had to remove his kids from the district after they adopted a new comprehensive sex-ed curriculum last year.
“Introducing these concepts to children as young as third grade is not right,” Ordonez said.
He said a lot of parents complained but never got a response from the district.
Cynthia Soliz, chair of Austin ISD’s health advisory council, may be one reason why the concerns of parents like Ordonez were ignored.
Soliz also testified Tuesday, touting extensive knowledge she gained from leading the SHAC when the district adopted the comprehensive sex curriculum that drove the Ordonez family out of the school system.
Soliz complained about “two glaring omissions” in the statewide standards the board is currently considering: only “heteronormative sexual partners and relationships” are included, and there is “no mention made of any kind of abortion”—which she said is “information that half of our students will need.”
While Soliz wants the whole state to adopt the same “comprehensive” sex ed taught in Austin, Ordonez asked board members to maintain the standards for abstinence and local control.
“The culture of Travis County can’t be applied to all [of] Texas,” he added.
Conservative grassroots group True Texas Project also went on record Tuesday against introducing radical comprehensive sex education into the statewide health curriculum, saying that “such teaching does not belong in the public schools.”
“The proposed guidelines support a curriculum which teaches students the benefits of abstinence, the risks of early sexual activity, and the importance of allowing sex education to be addressed in the home,” TPP said in a statement announcing the resolution, which read in part:
“NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of True Texas Project that the SBOE should adopt the current proposed revisions to the Health TEKS, without amendments that would introduce radical sex education to the curriculum at any level.
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that radical comprehensive sex education that promotes hyper-sexualization of children and indoctrinates children with pro-LGBT sexual orientation and gender identity politics should be rejected.”
The SBOE meetings will continue through the end of the week, and their agendas and a link to the livestream are posted on the Texas Education Agency website. Citizens can also share comments and concerns directly with their elected board representative; contact information can be found here.
The agency will meet once more this year, November 17-20, for a final vote on the new standards.