FAIRFAX, Va. — Tempers flared among parents at the final Fairfax County School Board meeting for the school year, when 10-to-2 vote decided last Thursday 7th through 10th grade students that the sex education curriculum would include lessons pertaining to gender identity and transgender issues.
The school board vote happened one day before the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize same-sex marriage across the country.
Those protesting the curriculum changes wore red t-shirts and bright stickers with the phrase, “Respect parents’ rights” while others supporting the board wore stickers that said, “Teach the facts.”
Changes to the Family Life Education curriculum spanned across each grade level, but the move of the more sensitive material from one section of the curriculum to another has opponents more than upset, despite the board’s insistence that students can opt out of such classes, if their parents choose to do so.
Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Schultz, one of the two dissenting votes on the curriculum change vote, told The Daily Caller that the curriculum committee, which is not a committee of the school board, spent a year going through particular sections of the family life education curriculum and recommended to the board to move parts of the family life curriculum, which included gender identity and transgender issues, over to the health curriculum.
“Once you move something out of family life, the family life education curriculum delivery method and into a health curriculum, by default, a parent no longer has the right to opt out,” Schultz said. ”And so there were huge sections, not just of the more controversial topics but even basic things about family units and emotions and social development they suggested to move to the health curriculum.”
The Fairfax School system is the nation’s tenth largest. According to one local outlet, classes pertaining to personal development (emotions/feelings, self-image, self-concept, personal characteristics, skills to work and play successfully in a community), healthy relationships (includes conflict resolution skills), respecting individual differences (disabilities, ethnicities, cultures), and mental health issues like depression and suicide, were all moved to from family life to the health curriculum.
At a school board meeting a week earlier, a number of citizens were given an opportunity to be recognized and peak for or against the changes to the curriculum during the meeting.
“These intellectuals, we elect too many of them. We don’t elect the average common ordinary man. There are people on that school board that have never had children in their lives and they want to tell us how to raise our children,” Freddy Burgos of the school choice advocacy organization SEEDS, told TheDC.
Douglas Hansen, a Fairfax resident and gay activist told TheDC four of his kids went through the school system, and he was pleased with the outcome of the evening’s vote.
“I was for the recommended teachings for sexual orientation, transgender, gender identity. We tried to be restrained on our side and respect issues. I was rather appalled at the constant cackling from those who didn’t agree, although I understand why. I don’t think they were very respectful of the school board,” he said.
Schultz, however, believes that some parents may just decide to pull their children out of school on days when the kids are expected to attend health classes that may be controversial.
“I predict there’s going to be a lot of unexcused absences in the future in certain grades because I think parents, once they get a syllabus and they see when some of these topics are going to be taught, are just going to choose to not send their kids to school those days,” she said, adding, “And that’s unfortunate because those kids are going to miss out on a lot of learning and you lose some of the momentum that kids need in their education and that was part of the problem.”