State oversight of sexual education curriculum up for debate at Capitol

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just how much say should parents have in their children’s schools’ sexual education curriculum is up for a public hearing Tuesday at the State Capitol.

State Senator Bryan Hughes says Senate Bill 784 is all about increasing transparency.

“In many districts, parents are being shown varying summaries, but not the actual material,” he said. “Because these materials are so sensitive and so related to any given family’s values, it’s important that parents see what’s being taught to children.”

The bill proposes requiring all Texas school districts to send their full sex ed curriculum to parents. 

Lake Travis parent Jennifer Fleck told KXAN making the lessons available online or mailing them to parents for a fee to make sure every parent can easily access the materials. 

In Austin, the district makes the lessons available at each school’s libraries.

“Parents can go tomorrow and see what’s being taught this year in May,” explained Susanne Kearns with Informed Parents of Austin. “It doesn’t get much more transparent than having the lessons in your kid’s school right now to take a look at.”

She said that’s why the bill is “just unnecessary. It would be a huge cost.”

Kearns is also concerned about copyright laws. 

“You wouldn’t be able to do that with math textbooks, so there’s no reason for you to be able to do it with a sex ed curriculum either,” she said. 

But Hughes said, “Many of these are being promoted at earlier and earlier ages, and parents are concerned. That’s where this comes from. Not aimed at a particular district, but in general, make sure that parents know what’s going on. Parents are having input.”

As of Monday evening, the latest version of SB784 wasn’t available, but Hughes said he also wants to include measures that would require each district’s health advisory council to always follow open meeting laws. 

The Education Committee hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday. 

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