Texas Is About to Erase LGBTQ+ Youth in Its New Sex Ed Curriculum

https://www.them.us/story/texas-to-erase-lgbtq-youth-in-new-sex-ed-curriculum

For the first time in 23 years, Texas is poised to adopt updates to its curriculum on sex education, affecting an estimated 5.5 million public school students across the state. But the new policies, which are set for a final vote on Friday, do not include information that recognizes the unique experiences of LGBTQ+ youth.

According to the Texas Tribune, the state’s board of education held a preliminary vote on Wednesday to require middle schools to teach students about forms of birth control other than abstinence. The new requirements reportedly include instruction regarding “the effectiveness and the risks and failure rates … of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods in the prevention of STDs, STIs and pregnancy.”

But many of the more progressive proposals put forward to the Texas Board of Education’s 15-member body, which is dominated by Republicans, were rejected in a September meeting. These included lessons that would define terms like sexual orientation and gender identity, while advising students to treat their peers with respect regardless of whether they are LGBTQ+ identified or not.

 

Other rejected amendments would have entailed having discussions in the classroom regarding abortion and affirmative consent. One board member felt that teaching young people about consent would amount to “grooming” for pedophiles and sex traffickers, as The Guardian newspaper reported.

 

The Texas Board of Education reportedly held 27 hours of public testimony regarding the new sex ed curriculum over the past year, with individuals advocating for and against LGBTQ+ inclusion. One of the most vocal supporters of inclusive sex ed guidelines was fellow board member Ruben Cortez, Jr., a Democrat, who introduced an amendment to teach students about “bullying and harassment because of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.” The suggestion was ultimately voted down.

 

“We’re here, as representatives of this body, to represent the voices of every child,” he said, in comments recorded by the local news publication Austin American-Statesman. “We’re leaving out a big segment of kids when we take these types of actions.”

Other proponents of LGBTQ+ inclusion included the Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning, grassroots organization that works to protect civil liberties in public schools. Its outreach and advocacy coordinator, Jules Mandel, said the group is “incredibly disappointed” the Texas Board of Education failed “to be on the right side of history and to give Texas a modern sex education curriculum, rather than keeping students trapped in the past.”

“We were deeply disappointed by the votes taken on four amendments that would have simply acknowledged that LGBTQ people exist and that we, just like everyone else, deserve to be treated with respect regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity,” Mandel told the American-Statesman.

 

The updates, which are extremely likely to be confirmed during Friday’s round of final votes, also neglected to remove anti-LGBTQ+ language which has been on the books in Texas for decades. According to the nationwide student advocacy group GLSEN, Texas is one of six states — including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina — which currently has “no promo homo” laws in place preventing the “promotion of homosexuality” in the classroom. (A district court ruled South Carolina’s law unconstitutional in 2020, but it has not been formally removed.)

Two different statutes in the Texas Health and Safety Code require that teachers lecturing students in topics regarding sex ed “state that homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense,” despite the fact that the state’s anti-sodomy laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003.

Despite Texas’ restrictive laws regarding LGBTQ+ education in schools, inclusive sex ed is broadly popular among residents. According to a survey cited by The Guardian, two-thirds of Texas voters believe that public school programs “should incorporate standards about respecting people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity.”

Should the Texas Board of Education vote in favor of the new curriculum, it will not be adopted until 2022. One quirk of the proposed regulations is that they may not apply to high school students, as high schoolers in Texas are not required to take sex ed classes in order to graduate. Furthermore, a 2016 report from the Texas Freedom Network found that 83% of Texas school districts either offered abstinence-only education or simply didn’t teach sex ed at all.

3 thoughts on “Texas Is About to Erase LGBTQ+ Youth in Its New Sex Ed Curriculum

    • Scottie November 21, 2020 / 15:24

      Hello Chatty Introvert. Have you seen Aron Ra’s videos on going to the Texas board of education meetings and trying to educate the board members? It is stunning what these people really believe. I couldn’t believe some of these ideas they were trying to push on kids. In one video a board member admitted that something they were pushing was not true but felt that it was important to teach the kids that it was true. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      • TheChattyIntrovert November 23, 2020 / 14:00

        I’ve watched a bunch of his live lectures (and I love the Un-Holy Trinity Tour ones, Aussie and state-side with Seth and Matt). When I found he was part of the ones trying to talk sense into the school board, I was amazed and just had to listen. He’s got interesting vids to teach about evolution (watched them a few times). the only gripe I have is he talks a little too damned fast in those videos, but the info is pretty wow. I learned more from him than I had in all my years of schooling, probably because I can’t remember any evolution being taught–or it was scattered and piecemeal to prevent problems if it was there.

        Liked by 1 person

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