Uproar over controversial sex education books in Miami-Dade

There has been heated debate among parents in Miami-Dade County over whether two sex education books should end up in the classroom.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade School Board will decide whether two sex education text books will end up in the classroom.

At the meeting, expect a slew of parents who are deeply concerned about how the board will move forward with the books titled, “Comprehensive Health Skills.” The two separate textbooks are designed for middle and high schools.

“It goes into details about medical procedures such as abortion,” said Alex Serrano, the county director for County Citizens Defending Freedom, the organization that has highlighted a number of examples in the textbooks they believe are inappropriate especially for middle school-aged children.

Serrano is raising three children, who used to attend the Miami-Dade Public School system but then pulled them when he “became aware of the many issues prevalent in the system.” After a year of home schooling, his children are now enrolled in private school.

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On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade School Board will decide whether two sex education text books will end up in the classroom.

County Citizens Defending Freedom cites a textbook excerpt from chapter 20 and page 653 where abortion is addressed.

“In some cases, people who are not ready to give birth and raise a child choose to end the pregnancy with a procedure called abortion,” the book details.

According to the excerpts posted as examples, the textbooks also address: emergency contraception, natural methods like withdrawal, gender identity and sexual orientation.

“I would argue that plan B pills, how they work and how they’re accessible over the counter...is not an age appropriate information for an 11 year-old,” Serrano said.

Serrano believes the school district’s textbook selection is flawed because of lack of transparency when it comes to meeting notifications and parent participation in district committees related to textbook selection.

The two textbooks had been approved for adoption, but after objections were raised a hearing was held and an independent district officer found them to be appropriate.

“There is such a thing as boundaries,” said Laly Jimenez-Hincapie, the local chair for Moms for Liberty. “Why are we exposing children ahead of their age to content that they don’t even know how to mentally process.”

Like Serrano, Jimenez-Hincapie is also home schooling her children.

Carrie Feit is outraged at attempts to remove the books from the classroom. Feit has two school-aged children, ages 12 and 16, who do attend Miami-Dade schools.

“Our kids are human beings with sexuality...and for us to pretend that doesn’t exist is really denying their dignity,” said Feit, who has been organizing parents to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Feit believes this is a political campaign driven by anti-abortion groups and the result of ongoing “culture wars,” arguably heightened by the pandemic-related debates over masking and vaccines.

Feit argues right-wing groups are using issues like sexual orientation and gender identity to instill fear and get other parents worked up.

“How dare you think that you have a say in the information my child has access to about their bodies because of your religious beliefs?” Feit asked.

“I want my kid to understand how to prevent pregnancy or end their pregnancy is they find themselves in that situation,” she added.

“I don’t see anything that I would consider inappropriate for kids of that age to learn,” said Dr. Michael Maurer, a pediatrician and co-founder of the Florida Healthy Youth Alliance, an organization that says its mission is to champion the health and well-being of Florida youth with a focus on supporting medically accurate, inclusive, trauma-informed, and culturally competent sexual health education in grades K-12.

Maurer has looked through the content and describes it as important material, which doesn’t go far enough and should be supplemented with teacher dialogue about a range of issues including sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies and gender identity.

“When kids seek information about those things on their own they will find it in an unhealthy potentially way,” Dr. Maurer said.


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.