Sex education curriculum in Broward needs to change, teachers union president says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Under pressure from the Florida Department of Education, the Broward County School Board staff used a video to educate parents about a proposed sex education curriculum that was more in line with controversial state laws. They are having to rework the proposal.

The initial proposal wanted to get rid of lessons on HIV/AIDS for students in second to sixth grades, get rid of a third-grade lesson on boundaries, a fourth-grade lesson about puberty, and lessons in eighth and seventh grades about birth control basics and methods.

It also aimed to end lessons about the reproductive system for students from fifth to eighth grade, remove references to condoms and masturbation in eighth-grade lessons, and limit lessons on sexual violence prevention, state rape laws, and LGBTQ.

“It’s not OK to remove all of that,” Anna Fusco, the president of the Broward Teachers Union, said on Wednesday. “This is the world we are in: HIV is still around.”

School Board members met Tuesday for a workshop and after giving the public an opportunity to speak, the testimony from parents, advocates, and experts made it clear that the proposal needed some work.

Opponents of the abstinence-only model said education about proper anatomical terms is important to prevent child sex abuse and the “unwanted touch” approach in the proposal puts them at risk from predators. Supporters said parents, and not teachers, should be the ones to educate children on the subject when and how they see fit.

In response to the workshop, Fusco said teachers support change, but not the one proposed.

“There are pieces in there that definitely, for better or worse, need to be updated,” Fusco said.

The controversy comes as the state already bans lessons about LGBTQ with students in third grade or below and the teachers who violate the law stand to lose their licenses because of the Parental Rights in Education law, which critics have gone on to refer to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Furthermore, there is the Public PreK-12 Educational Institution and Instruction Requirements bill, which critics say is an expansion of the “Don’t Say Gay” law because it limits the use of pronouns that are incongruent with those applied at birth.

There is also a bill that the legislature is considering, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Period” bill because it restricts the subject to students who are in sixth or higher grades.

The School Board plans to submit yet another proposal and maybe vote on the issue in May, while parents continue to have the option of keeping their children away from sex-ed classes.

Related link: Broward County Public School’s Sexual Health & Wellness K-12 Curriculum

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.