AUSTIN (KXAN) — From contraceptives to consent, the State Board of Education is set to decide what will appear on the page when it comes to sex education for Texas middle schoolers.
The 15-member elected body is holding committee hearings this week on curriculum revisions and textbook materials, with final votes expected Friday.
Last November, the board voted to tweak its list of statewide teaching standards known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills — or TEKS — by broadening its approach to sex education beyond “abstinence-only,” and adding more information on sexually transmitted infections, and what constitutes a healthy relationship.
Carisa Lopez with the progressive Texas Freedom Network told KXAN, for the most part, the group is OK with the proposed textbooks, some of which include optional teaching materials on LGBTQ topics not included on the TEKS list.
“If the board does not adopt these textbooks, it’s going to be really detrimental to students,” Lopez said. “Our kids deserve to be armed with this information, and we are doing a huge disservice to them if we don’t allow it.”
Jonathan Covey with the conservative nonprofit Texas Values said he believes the board needs to stick to its own rules, which do not include LGBTQ teachings.
“We believe it discriminates against students who have a Biblical faith or faith other than something that believes in sexual orientation or gender identity,” he told KXAN.
Whatever the board decides, the classroom materials chosen by Texas could influence the options available to other states, according to University of Texas at El Paso communication professor Dr. Richard Pineda.
“If a book publisher is going to commit to a certain narrative, and they’re producing thousands upon thousands of textbooks, if you have a smaller state that only needs hundreds, I think whatever Texas wants will roll over,” Pineda said.