MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The sex education textbook discussion continued Thursday for the Miami-Dade School Board, a week after it voted to disallow two controversial textbooks in the classroom.
After a lengthy discussion and debate, the board voted to reverse its decision, bringing the books back in the classroom.
The books, intended for middle and high school students, discuss abortion, emergency contraception, natural methods like withdrawal, gender identity and sexual orientation.
A group of parents in Miami-Dade that goes by “Parents for Children” presented more than 2,500 signatures toward saving sex education in Miami-Dade public schools.
The group of parents said the school district is out of compliance with state law.
That was the concern from outgoing board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman, who asked to rescind last week’s vote. She changed her mind and her vote.
A vast majority of speakers showed up Thursday to condemn the vote to remove the textbooks.
“I think people have gotten to a level where they think and they feel comfort that our school board is going to make the right decision for our children, and this last week the decision that they made contradicted that,” former PTA president Gina Vinueza said. “No. 1, it’s state mandated. It’s required that this be part of the curriculum and No. 2, Miami has such a high rate of STIs and all kinds of things, so students need this information. We need to give them the tools that they need to make life choices.”
A handful of parents and activists still felt the material shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom.
“This week, it’s nine genders. Next week, it’s 11,” Christina Ortega said. “So we really have to think about the financial burden it’s going to cost us to be replacing these books every time they add genders to the list.”
The board instructed the district’s superintendent to make sure that parents know that they can opt their children out of learning the material moving forward.
Other parents, meanwhile, had said they were concerned about 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 cited 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 July 20, board members voted 5 to 4 to not allow the books.
Last time, five of the nine school board members voted in favor of keeping the books.