sex education

Miami-Dade School Board Flip-Flops, Approves Sex Education Books

The board voted 5 to 4 to bring back the sex education textbooks it had first approved, then rejected, and now approved again

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It’s as if last week’s controversial vote never happened.

The Miami-Dade School Board held an emergency meeting Thursday to figure out what to do about sex education, which is required by state law for middle and high school students.

Last week the board painted itself into a corner by rejecting the sex education curriculum that it had previously approved. At Thursday's meeting, the board unexpectedly — and with much bickering — reversed course.

“The process cannot be reversed,” said board member Lubby Navarro at one point, arguing that the decision to reject the textbooks was final.

Apparently, she was wrong. The board voted 5 to 4 to bring back the sex education textbooks it had first approved, then rejected, and now approved again. School board chair Perla Tabares Hantman switched from a no vote last week to a yes vote Thursday.

“I think we corrected a decision that was made that was obviously detrimental to legions of children in Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” said board member Dr. Steve Gallon.

Board member Christi Fraga, who voted no last week and voted no on Thursday, told NBC 6 that the meeting was supposed to be about expediting the process to approve — this time with more community input — a sex education curriculum.

“That did not happen here today, instead we went backwards and approved the material the way it was originally presented,” Fraga said.

Is she angry about it?

“I think it’s a democratic process and the democratic process spoke,” she replied.

Navarro was among those who argued that portions of the books were not age-appropriate and that the public did not have enough input into their approval.

The board heard dozens of comments from the public, including from one man who said, “The educational system is imposing a communist agenda to destroy our families, we as parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of our children.”

The vast majority of people who spoke at the meeting favored using the sex education materials.

“It teaches children how to identify sexual abuse and protect themselves against it, sex education also helps reduce the rates of unwanted pregnancies and as a result, it reduces abortion,” said a public school parent and University of Miami professor.

“This is not OK, this is grooming. It’s not politics, protect the kids,” said Eulalia Jimenez, a parent.

Also among those who raised their voices Thursday were two mothers who helped gather 2,600 signatures in support of the curriculum in two days.

“Our students need this information, we need to give them the tools they need to make the choices and I think it’s an essential part of education that we do this, the fact that it’s even under debate is ridiculous in my opinion because it’s something even I, 40 years ago going to a Catholic school, was taught,” said Gina Vinuenza, who has a son at Palmetto Senior High school.

Norma Schwartz, who has two kids in public schools, was asked what she thought of the board’s action.

“I am absolutely thrilled, I’m thrilled that they heard our voices, they listened to our children’s voices and they gave it a second look and did what was right,” Schwartz said.

The board also agreed to show parents what the lessons will entail so that they can make more informed decisions about opting their kids in or out of sex education.

Opting out has always been an option for parents.

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