Parents outraged at the graphic content taught in public schools and available in public libraries may just have scored a major victory. In a 5-4 vote on Wednesday evening, the Miami-Dade School Board in Florida decided to reject two textbooks on human sexuality, one for middle school and one for high school.
The vote came after a raucous school board meeting in which over 40 members of the public spoke. All but two spoke in favor of adopting the textbooks.
“Half of all high school kids have sex before they graduate from high school, that’s not something we’re gonna change," Marika Lynch, a parent of three who spoke at the meeting, told reporters. "So do we want them to have the best information? Yes. Do I want my kids who are all pre-teens to have the best information? Absolutely, that’s what we’re here for today.”
"Refusing to provide students with this necessary information would undoubtedly cause children to experience sexual health consequences," said another speaker.
However, opponents to the textbooks also made their concerns known. Two women were escorted from the meeting when their shouts against the textbooks became disruptive.
Another man, Alex Serrano also voiced his objections to the material, which he said include “[m]atters related to their sexuality, to their health, to their human reproduction, to abortion, to access to plan B pills, matters related to contraceptive methods."
Serrano represents the Miami-Dade chapter of County Citizens Defending Freedom, a national organization which seeks to empower Americans "to defend their faith, freedom, and liberty, while placing local governance under the watchful eye of local American citizens acting as patriots." The group compiled a list of concerns about the textbooks. According to the list, one textbook goes into detail about various contraception methods, including the "withdrawal" method, also described as "pulling out." Another excerpt explains that gender identity differs from biological sex.
Serrano said he removed his own children from the school district after he discovered that they were being taught age-inappropriate content.
Board member Mari Tere Rojas agreed that the textbooks in question were too mature for middle and high school students. "It is something that I personally do not believe is something that is age appropriate for those students to address,” she said about the various contraception discussions in the books.
In rejecting the books, the board reversed an earlier vote to approve them.
Local teachers unions are not pleased with the reversal. A statement issued by United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats said in part that members are "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.”