AISD students deserve proper sex education despite backlash from conservative groups


Courtesy of Douglas P. Perkins

“Sex education is education and is essential to young people’s health, relationships, and life goals. Austin ISD students deserve to have the information, resources, and skills needed to protect their health and build their future,” said Planned Parenthood in a statement regarding this recent controversy.

The topic of sex education in schools has always been a controversial one. Parents fall on a spectrum of opinions, especially in the state of Texas. These opinions range from very supportive of the new curriculum to appalled by the proposal and very much against it. Particularly the inclusion of videos being proposed in the new curriculum is a point of tension. As expected, the new sex education curriculum being proposed to AISD has generated a lot of controversies. Learning about these topics can be useful for children, as it opens their minds to some of the ways the world works at an early age. 

The new sex education curriculum is groundbreaking because, for the first time, it would teach students as young as the third grade about gender identity and sexual orientation. Other topics the new curriculum includes are topics regarding the issue of consent and topics aimed at inclusivity towards the LGBTQ community. There are also talks of teaching students from kindergarten through second grade about the names for parts of the body, which could be implemented years from now. This would mean that students aged kindergarten through second grade would begin to learn more about anatomy and what different parts of the body are called.

While organizations such as Planned Parenthood are supporting these new proposals, religious groups such as Texas Values have expressed opposition to the lessons. Planned Parenthood described the new lessons as “LGBT inclusive, science-based, and much-needed.” 

Among those who oppose the new curriculum, David Walls, vice president of Texas Values is one of them. “It’s not appropriate for a government body to encourage students to engage in any kind of sexual activity.” Walls said. He felt that the inclusion of videos in the new curriculum would encourage children to engage in sexual relationships.  This is simply not true, as adolescents will most likely be encouraged to engage in sexual relationships through their peers anyway. Educating students on these matters in an appropriate way is the most important thing.

Because of this criticism, certain topics like HIV and sexual orientation are to be taught starting in fifth grade, when they were previously intended to be taught starting in third grade. The debate about whether or not these teachings are appropriate for third-graders is what caused these lessons to be taught to older children. A video called “Love is Love”, which included representation of various types of relationships, was also removed from the curriculum due to backlash. 

Improving the sex education curriculum in public schools is necessary, as it has been proving that lack of sex education and/or abstinence-only based teaching is not effective in preventing teen sexual activity and pregnancy. I also think the issue of consent should be taught at a young age as well, as that is an issue that will most definitely affect kids later in life. Although I understand the concerns parents have regarding certain topics being too graphic for children, the issue appears to stem from personal beliefs instead of concern for children as a whole. The problem with the approach is the lack of objectivity when thinking of the best solution. The best way for parents to approach this is to put personal beliefs aside and focus on what’s best for your child and other children in the community.