FAIRFAX, Va. – School board members in Fairfax overrode parental concerns about the district’s expanded sex education program and approved a revamped curriculum that includes transgender issues.
Nearly all parents in attendance at a Fairfax school board meeting Thursday vehemently opposed a plan to include transgender issues and gender identity to the sex education curriculum for the district’s middle and high school students, The Washington Post reports.
Board members briefly considered two proposals to delay the approval of the new curriculum to allow more time to hear from the public before quickly approving the changes at the conclusion of the meeting, according to the news site.
“Opponents also expressed concern that some of the revisions would move certain sensitive lessons out of the Family Life Education curriculum and into health class, which would remove parents’ ability to opt-out their children from learning the material,” the Post reports.
“The health class is a required course; Family Life Education is not.”
NBC Washington reports many parents walked out of the packed board meeting frustrated with the board’s decision to add gender identity and transgender issues to the Family Life Education curriculum. The decision preserves parents’ right to opt their child out of the new sex ed lessons, but some parents want more details on what exactly will be taught and how their child might be impacted.
“Parents: Do you want your children in kindergarten to hear about same-sex marriage under the guise of families?” Andrea Lafferty, Fairfax parent and president of the Traditional Values Coalition, asked parents at the meeting.
“No,” the crowd responded loudly, the Post reports.
Another parent compared the curriculum changes to Nazi Germany.
“Today’s version of the Nazi Germany description would be something like this: ‘First they came for traditional marriage, and I did not speak out because I wanted to be tolerant,’” Drake Wilkinson said in a video testimony at the board meeting.
“Then they came for the children in our schools, and I did not speak out … Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Lafferty previously told the Christian Broadcasting Network parents are especially upset because none of the lesson changes on transgender issues or gender identity are required by the state.
“It’s not a part of the state law, it’s not a part of the state school board instruction, but they’ve decided to add it against the will of many of the parents. We are very concerned that they are doing it here in Fairfax County and perhaps other places without the parents’ knowledge or consent,” Lafferty said.
“It’s just bizarre. They want to force this on the kids in Fairfax County when in fact it’s not a part of SOLs or the required education.”
Gay rights advocates, meanwhile, are happy the school board overrode parental objections to force changes in the sex education curriculum.
“We actually think the right decision was made,” LGBT student activist David Aponte told NBC Washington. “Parents certainly have the right to opt their kids out. We want to make sure that students who want to be educated, and need to be educated, are in that right position.”