A small group of Austin parents traded in their typical Monday for a day at a park to protest “the graphic nature of current sex education resources in schools.”
The protest is called “Sex Ed Sit Out,” which is part of a global movement, according to its website. In Austin, some parents gathered at Zilker Park to make their voices heard.
In a statement, the group said “Sex Ed Sit Out” is “a grassroots movement of frustrated public school parents who want to end the sexualization of their children during class time.”
“We need to alert parents about what’s going on in their schools,” Austin organizer Caryl Ayala said. “Teaching a child that they’re sexual in nature, and when that happens, they start to engage sooner in sexual activities.”
Ayala said talking about sexual health should be left up to the parents.
“In 5th grade, they do somewhat of a puberty — talking about the body and how you’re changing, which is all fine and good, but I really do feel that parents should be the ones doing that,” Ayala explained to KXAN.
“Besides, as a teacher, I was hired to do reading, writing and math. Academics is what I was hired to do as a teacher and went to college for.”
But others say sex ed can successfully take place in classrooms.
“As a sex educator who teaches in local charter schools at the middle and high school level, I see every day the positive effects that comprehensive sex ed curriculums have on preparing youth to make informed choices about their bodies,” Melissa Carnagey, sex educator at SexPositiveFamilies.com said.
She went to explain parents play a major role in teaching their kids about sexual health development, but “the problem that exists is that not all parents are equipped or comfortable with having the necessary shame-free sexual health talks.”
“We also live in a society where a lot of parents don’t know what to tell their kids about sex,” said Corey Tabor, program director at Austin LifeGuard.
LifeGuard partners with 13 local districts and teaches sex ed to middle and high school students. Tabor said the program teaches students about abstinence, contraception, abortion and adoption, sexually transmitted diseases and healthy relationships.
“We’re more like the cool aunt or uncle that comes to say what the parents probably would say,” Tabor said. “We have the data that a lot of parents don’t have.”
Kathryn Gonzales, the operations and program director at Out Youth, added, “It is important for these programs to be as inclusive as possible so we can provide every student with the knowledge to engage in romantic and sexual relationships in the healthiest way possible.”
She said, “While we understand that conversations about sex can be uncomfortable for parents, we know that most parents aren’t having open and honest conversations about sex with their kids. As such, it has to happen somewhere, and schools are the logical choice.”
AISD and other Central Texas districts stress, however, parents can review the curriculum by contacting your school’s principal, and if you don’t agree you can make “opt-out arrangements.”
Sex ed at Austin-area districts:
- Austin ISD: “Austin ISD’s policy supports teaching human sexuality in health education. Currently, human sexuality is taught in May for K-8 and one unit in high school health. The current curriculum focuses on issues such as friendship and anti-bullying for elementary students and develops a functional knowledge related to sexuality and the skills necessary to adopt healthy behaviors for middle and high school students.”
- Austin LifeGuard says it’s at about a dozen districts, including Leander, Lake Travis, Eanes, Pflugerville, Jarrell, Liberty Hill, La Grange, Navarro and other charter and private schools.
- Manor ISD uses the Baylor Scott and White Wellness and Sexual Health program.
- Hays CISD uses the Big Decisions program.
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