Miami Herald | By Sommer Brugal | July 28, 2022
The Miami-Dade School Board last week rejected a recommendation to adopt a comprehensive health and sexual health education textbook for middle and high school students. On Thursday, the board reversed that decision — again.
The decision came about four hours into a special meeting Thursday that the chairwoman called to discuss the implications of the board’s decision last week, which left the district without a comprehensive health education curriculum and out of compliance with state statute.
Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman flipped her vote from last week, this time voting in favor of adopting the textbook, attributing the change to her realization that the district could be penalized for not following state statute and requirements. (The Department of Education did not respond to the Herald’s request for comment regarding possible ramifications of violating state requirements.)
Vice Chair Steve Gallon III and board members Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Lucia Baez-Geller and Luisa Santos also voted yes. Board members Marta Perez, Christi Fraga, Lubby Navarro and Mari-Tere Rojas voted no.
The book, “Comprehensive Health Skills,” will address the state’s required units of study for Human Reproduction and Disease Education for grades 6 through 12. It includes a version for middle school and one for high school classes and offers research-based health education with topics such as nutrition, physical activity and sexually transmitted diseases.
COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
Like last week, dozens of community members, including parents, students, alumni and organization representatives, attended Thursday’s meeting to speak on the issue.
The majority of attendees spoke in favor of implementing the textbook and urged the board to reverse its decision. A common phrase among the medical professionals, parents, students and district alumni was “sex-ed saves lives.”
Amanda Altman, chief executive officer, Kristi House, an organization that provides services for all forms of child trauma, implored the board to make decisions based on evidence and facts.
“Parents aren’t the experts on everything,” Altman said. “If you’re not willing to follow the evidence and listen to the experts on this, what else are you not willing to follow the evidence on? We don’t just have a duty to comply … we have a moral duty to our children.”
There was a handful of parents who doubled-down on what they believed to be inappropriate content included in the texts, however.
Alex Serrano, the county director for County Citizens Defending Freedom, who led the effort to oppose the textbook, and Eulalia Maria Jimenez-Hincapie, the Miami chapter leader for Moms for Liberty, a conservative, politically-involved self-proclaimed parental rights organization, also spoke against the textbook during the meeting.
No one is asking for children to not learn about sexual education, Jimenez-Hincapie argued. “It’s about inappropriate content.”
This is a developing news story and will be updated.