Parents for Age-Appropriate Sex Education in Austin Independent School District (AISD)
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Parents for Age-Appropriate Sex Education
The above image is from a Kindergarten lesson. There is a link at the end that will take you to the rest of the images (see 5th grade material) that are graphic in nature and unable to be used for viewing in this petition.
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Dear Austin Independent School District (AISD) Board Members,
We are a diverse group of informed and concerned parents, taxpayers and citizens, united by the belief that our children deserve unbiased public education. Austin families want and deserve a sexual education program that promotes healthy choices and behaviors, is developmentally appropriate, medically accurate, evidence-based, unbiased, respects our community values, respects a diverse population, and abides by the law.
The K-8th grade Comprehensive Sexuality Education curriculum, Rights, Respect, Responsibility (3Rs), created by the political activist organization Advocates for Youth (AFY), was hastily adopted by AISD without widespread parent knowledge or input. It is a drastic departure from what is currently in place in our schools, is politically-biased, and is “too much, too soon” for our children. It is not developmentally and age appropriate, and does not adhere to Texas law.
AFY is an extremist organization with radical and controversial views about sex, including the belief that our children possess “inalienable sexual rights” from birth. We do not believe that any organization with these extreme and biased views has any place in the public education system.
- We respectfully request that AISD immediately suspend the use of the 3Rs and replace it with a curriculum that is age-appropriate, medically accurate, unbiased, and reflects community values.
- We ask that AISD give proper notification to all parents for feedback prior to adoption of the new curriculum.
- We recommend continued use of the 2017-18 sex education curriculum and ask that any future K-5 curriculum exclude sexuality instruction and be limited to health and wellness education with an emphasis on biology, and a puberty discussion in the 5th grade (as currently in place in AISD).
The issues we found with the 3Rs curriculum are as follows:
The chosen Curriculum does not follow Texas law (namely, the Texas Education Code and the Texas Health and Safety Code):
- Texas Education Code Section 28.004 (e) states “Any course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, or human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome shall be selected by the board of trustees with the advice of the local school health advisory council and must: (1). Present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age; (2). Devote more attention to abstinence from sexual activity than any other behavior; (3). Emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity; if used consistently and correctly is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases infection with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the emotional trauma associated with adolescent sexual activity; (4) direct adolescents to a standard of behavior in which abstinence from sexual activity before marriage is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome; and(5) teach contraception and condom use in terms of human use reality rates instead of theoretical laboratory rates, if instruction on contraception and condoms is included in curriculum content."
In the proposed 5th grade curriculum, STDs including HIV are discussed along with modes of transmission. This material is biased and does not devote more attention to abstinence as required by Texas law. The law also refers to the recipients of these topics as “adolescents”, implying that these topics are to be taught to adolescents and not 10-11 year old children.
- Texas Education code 28.004 requires districts to teach abstinence as the only 100% way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. However, AFY undermines abstinence and encourages non-intercourse sexual behavior such as dry sex, mutual masturbation, and bathing together, teaching that, “These behaviors are important because they can help people learn about their bodies and build connection between people without any risk of STIs.” There are few, if any, references to marriage or traditional monogamous relationships.
This teaching is also a direct violation of the Texas Health & Safety Code 163.002 that states: "Course materials and instruction relating to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should include:
(1) an emphasis on sexual abstinence as the only completely reliable method of avoiding unwanted teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases;
(2) an emphasis on the importance of self-control, responsibility, and ethical conduct in making decisions relating to sexual behavior;”
- Texas Education code 28.004 (i) Before each school year, a school district shall provide written notice to a parent of each student enrolled in the district of the board of trustees' decision regarding whether the district will provide human sexuality instruction to district students. If instruction will be provided, the notice must include: (3) information describing the opportunities for parental involvement in the development of the curriculum to be used in human sexuality instruction, including information regarding the local school health advisory council established under Subsection (a).
There was no communication from AISD to all parents to allow for adequate knowledge, information, or feedback on the proposed curriculum and use of the 3Rs as a model of development for a new one. The meeting that discussed the curriculum in depth was by invite-only, admitting only a select few parent representatives from each vertical team. This is not accurate representation and input from the diverse population served by AISD. There has not been adequate opportunity for parental involvement in the development of the curriculum to be used with our children.
- Texas Health and Safety Code-Heath&Safety 163.001 Program states “(b) Course materials and instruction relating to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should be age appropriate.”
H.R.453 - Healthy Relationships Act of 2015 states: d) Definitions.—In this Act:
(1) The term “age-appropriate” means appropriate for the general developmental and social maturity of the age group (as opposed to the cognitive ability to understand a topic, or the atypical development, of a small segment of the targeted population).
Beginning in Kindergarten, vivid scenarios, graphic vocabulary, and controversial concepts are introduced that otherwise would not have been discussed in most families at that age. 3Rs injects sexuality prematurely, answers questions before they are asked (instructing adults to "continue to provide information about sexuality, even if a child does not ask for it") and imposes biased sexual viewpoints on young children and their families. The curriculum encourages early sexual curiosity and sexual experimentation in children who are not developmentally ready. Age appropriateness is not merely determined by the cognitive ability to understand a concept.
Classroom teachers will be instructing this material, however, teachers have not been properly trained/informed, nor is this sex program considered age-appropriate by most teachers, parents, or community members. Supplemental materials contain graphic descriptions of oral, anal, and vaginal sex as young as 6th grade, and sexual experimentation is encouraged as young as Kindergarten due to AFY’s graphic anatomy and co-ed gender lessons. This is unnecessary, excessive and not considered age-appropriate by the majority of parents. The graphic diagram of a vagina is to be distributed and labeled by 5th grade students (both male and female) as a learning exercise in the 3R curriculum. (see link below for viewing of this handout) This is too graphic for this age (10-11 years old). Students (in a co-ed setting) as young as Kindergarten are taught to label the parts of the genitalia using slides referenced in the teaching material.
Introduction to consent in Kindergarten begins with lessons on good touch and bad touch, what touch feels good and what doesn’t, and kids’ right to determine how they are touched. These provide the foundation for consent to sex in later years:
“Explain that they have the right to determine whether and how they are touched.”(Kindergarten,Lesson 3, p. 12), “Draw some ways you do and don’t like to be touched.” (Kindergarten, Lesson 3, p. 5)
If sexual abuse prevention were really the goal of these lessons on touching, they should teach a clearer message that no one may touch your private parts (save doctors or parents for a check-up or hygiene) or touch you in a way that feels uncomfortable or icky. Instead, the lessons focus on the kids’ rights to be touched how they want and what “feels good”.
The curriculum promotes affirmation of and/or exploration of diverse gender identities. It teaches children they can change their gender, identify as multiple genders, or may present other unscientific and medically inaccurate gender ideologies. It fails to teach that most gender-confusion is resolved by puberty. Teachers are not trained to open the “Pandora’s box” of gender identity exploration with schoolchildren. The risk to and liability of AISD to address such sensitive issues to children this young are great. Gender-dysphoric children should explore these issues with their parents/families and a licensed counselor in a safe environment, not a co-ed public school classroom. Young children are extremely developmentally impressionable and should not be confused by a curriculum used in a public school setting, especially when parents are not present to help answer further questions from their children, nor are teachers licensed or equipped to do so. Examples of developmentally inappropriate teaching strategies are as follows:
“There are some body parts that mostly just girls have and some parts that mostly just boys have. Being a boy or a
girl doesn’t have to mean you have those parts, but for most people this is how their bodies are.”
(Kindergarten, Lesson 2, p. 8)
“Read My Princess Boy to the students and discuss gender role stereotypes.” (Grade 1, Lesson 2, p. 28)
“Say, “Most people have either biological male reproductive parts or biological female reproductive parts and that most people who have biological male reproductive parts are boys and most people who have biological female reproductive parts are girls, but sometimes people can have reproductive parts that don’t match who they are.”
(Grade 5, Lesson 1, p. 146)
The Curriculum undermines parents.
- According to Subchapter A issued under the Texas Education Code 115.1 (a) Introduction (1) In health education, students acquire the health information and skills necessary to become healthy adults and learn behaviors in which they should and should not participate. To achieve that goal, students will understand the following: students should first seek guidance in the area of health from their parents; personal behaviors can increase or reduce health risks throughout the lifespan; health is influenced by a variety of factors; students can recognize and utilize health information and products; and personal/interpersonal skills are needed to promote individual, family, and community health.
Advocates for Youth teaches kids that parents and faith leaders are biased and therefore unable to give them accurate information regarding sexuality. Instead, students are directed to use outside resources (Planned Parenthood and graphic websites designed by AFY) to find answers. “Regardless of your own religion, faith-based organizations may have biases based on their own beliefs and teachings that may limit the extent of the sexuality related information." It is not the appropriate role of public education to deconstruct and replace values and beliefs that children are taught at home or in their faith communities.
The curriculum sends messaging about children’s “rights” to sexual knowledge: “Tell students: “This is your body and you have a right to know what the different parts are called.”
(Grade 2, Lesson 1, p. 43)
The curriculum also introduces doubt when parents reinforce gender norms: “Ask the children to consider why it is that some people make decisions about what children can and can’t do ... Ask what might make people not choose an activity that they might really like to do. For example, a girl playing football or a boy taking ballet class.” (Grade 1, Lesson 2, p. 28)
This curriculum encourages children to seek information from other sources—not their parents, who should be the primary source for health education, as stated in the Texas Education Code. In the Grade 5 materials, teachers are told to ask: “What are some good places someone could go if they wanted to learn more about the reproductive system?” Answers: library books, movies, in school, nurse or doctor, reliable internet sites. Parents are not mentioned. (Grade 5, Lesson 1, p. 147. )
Opting out is not a viable option and further discriminates against many AISD students and their families.
AISD has communicated that parents may opt-out of participating in this curriculum. However, opting out is not a respectful, viable option. This completely disregards the diverse population and discriminates against students who wish to have a bias-free curriculum funded by their families’ tax dollars. Students who opt out might be alienated, subject to bullying (even by their own teachers), and cannot be protected from hearing the content repeated and interpreted through the minds of the exposed children. In addition, the full content of AFY's resources is intended to be accessible to students through computers/phones. AISD should choose a curriculum that is health- and evidence-based, and non-biased so parents won't need to opt out.
This Curriculum is detrimental to the school district, which is trying to win the confidence and trust of AISD parents.
AISD faces the loss of students and associated funds as parents will be forced to choose other educational options, such as other school districts, charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling to better align with their values.
AISD families have put their trust in the district to carefully select a curriculum and choose the best one for our children, considering all, not just part, of the diverse population served by the school district. This program is profoundly offensive to many of the 46.2% of the population who identify as people of faith: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and other religions. AISD has lost parents’ trust because this program was selected as a model without widespread parent knowledge or feedback into selection of the curriculum. AISD parents receive district surveys regarding the budget, length of the school day, school start times and holiday schedules, but have had no input into this extreme shift in sex ed curriculum.
Our children deserve an unbiased, balanced, developmentally appropriate curriculum that doesn’t oversexualize them. AISD's recent adoption of the 3Rs is extreme, was not properly vetted with feedback from parents, is not developmentally appropriate, is biased, and discriminates against families who desire a bias-free curriculum. We are not alone---informed parents around the country are opposed to AFY’s extreme curriculum and are rising up against this and similar aggressive sex programs.
Please sign and share our online petition.
Review original AFY lesson plans and Power Points that AISD are using as a model and in the process of adopting: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/component/content/article/2533
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