MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade School Board decided against allowing two controversial sex education textbooks in the classroom.
Some parents said they are 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 conservative organization that has highlighted a number of examples in the textbooks they believe are inappropriate, especially for middle school-aged children.
County Citizens Defending Freedom cites a textbook excerpt from chapter 20 and page 653 in which abortion is addressed.
According to the excerpts posted as examples, the textbooks also address: emergency contraception, natural methods like withdrawal, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Formal objections were raised, which sparked a hearing with a district officer, who after listening to those concerned, recommended the books be adopted.
But on Wednesday, board members voted 5 to 4 to not allow the books.
Last time, five of the nine school board members voted in favor to keep the books.
“Yes, I voted against it,” School Board Member Mari Tere Rojas said.
Rojas says she voted against the use of the books in the classroom because the contents are not age appropriate.
She pointed to contraception measures and abortion as those sensitive subjects.
“It is something that I personally do not believe is something that is age appropriate for those students to address,” she said.
The last time this came up, those who voted in favor of keeping the books in the classroom say the process works and the books were vetted.
“The banning of books is a slippery slope,” School Board Member Lucia Baez-Geller said.
Baez-Geller has worked as a teacher for 15 years.
She says pulling the contents from the book is a disservice to students.
“They follow the standards for our reproductive health here in Florida and I believe that every student should have a chance to learn the scientific facts that do affect them later in life,” she said.
Board Member Steve Gallon, who has kids in the public school system, voted to use the books and says this is about parents’ rights.
“You have parents that want that level of access and information for their children and those parents have a right,” he said.
Gallon says given the amount of access kids have to information via social media, it makes sense they get this kind of information in a structured, vetted and researched-based environment like the classroom.
United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats released a statement on the issue, saying that the teachers union is “disturbed by the continued attempt from extremist groups to censor books. We live in an enlightened society and completely oppose the censorship of knowledge and accurate teaching materials.”
“We don’t believe that the voice of extremist individuals with political agendas should dictate what 340,000+ students learn in schools,” the statement continued. “Our teachers are partners with parents and believe they should continue to be able to opt their children out of content with which they are uncomfortable. We respect parental voices and the choices they make for their children and not the children of others.
“Despite what some may think, teachers want to teach, and nowhere does it become more apparent than in Miami-Dade County Public Schools; despite the current political climate, M-DCPS is, for the third year in a row, an A+ rated school district. Let’s support our incredible schools, which give our students access to a successful and prosperous future.”