In a stunning flip-flop, the Miami-Dade County School Board reversed its earlier decision to approve sexual education textbooks for middle and high school students.
The decision came after a long meeting in which the vast majority of public speakers favored using the books, but the board voted 5 to 4 topside with conservative groups who had objected to the content in the books.
The decision means the school year will likely start without reproductive health being taught in classrooms, which is required by state law.
“Half of all high school kids have sex before they graduate from high school, that’s not something we’re gonna change," said Marika Lynch, a parent of three who spoke at the meeting in favor of using the books. "So we want them to have the best information. Yes, do I want my kids who are all pre-teens to have the best information? Absolutely, that’s what we’re here for today."
“We are not against sexual education, we are not against human reproduction and disease education books, we are for statutory compliance, age appropriateness in the content, factual content, and compliance with parental rights as protected by Florida state law,” said Alex Serrano, president of a group called County Citizens Defending Freedom, which raised objections to the textbooks.
Serrano pulled his kids out of public school. He came to the meeting to object to what he calls age-inappropriate content.
“Matters related to their sexuality, to their health, to their human reproduction, to abortion, to access to plan B pills, matters related to contraceptive methods,” Serrano said, as examples.
“I’ve reviewed the materials, too. They’re absolutely age-appropriate,” Lynch said.
One school board member, Christi Fraga, switched her position on the books, first voting to approve them weeks ago but today voting against them.
Mari Tere Rojas maintained her earlier position against the books, and so did Lucia Baez-Geller on the opposite side.
“It is something that I personally do not believe is age appropriate for those students to address at that point in time, you’re talking about middle school students and talking about high school students,” board member Rojas said.
“Are they appropriate?” Baez-Geller responded. “They follow the standards for reproductive health here in Florida and I believe every student should have the chance to learn these scientific facts that do affect them later in life.”