Despite overwhelming opposition voiced by parents, one of the largest school districts in the country has approved controversial LGBT-friendly changes to its sex education curriculum that critics say were pushed by left-leaning political groups and lacked medical justification.
The Fairfax County School Board in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., voted 10-1 last Thursday to pass a set of proposed changes to its sex education curriculum that, among other things, scrubs the term "biological sex" everywhere in the curriculum and replaces it with the term "sex assigned at birth."
Other changes opposed by parents include the teaching of HIV/AIDS prevention pill Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, no longer teaching students that abstinence from sexual activity is the only 100 percent effective way to avoid teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and scrubbing clergy from a list of "trusted adults."
Parents were also outraged that the school district will not teach its students about the health risks of hormone therapy and supression associated with gender transition.
Although supporters of the changes say it makes the curriculum more progressive-thinking when it comes to LGBT issues, parents and area residents who formally voiced their opposition to the changes far outnumbered those who formally voiced their support for the changes, according to a tally of emails sent to the school district during last month's public comment period.
The proposed changes even concerned a number of medical experts and local doctors who sent a letter to the school board earlier this month, urging that several of the proposed changes be rejected on grounds that they "lack medical justification."
"The final vote was a foregone conclusion," Cathy Ruse, a Fairfax County parent and social conservative activist, wrote in an op-ed along with her husband, Austin. "No one thought deeply ideological Fairfax County (VA) School Board would vote any other way than 10‑1 for what is among the most radical sex-ed curriculum in the country."
According to the tally, 941 emails opposed changing language to "sex assigned at birth," while 192 supported the change. A total of 837 emails opposed instruction on PrEP, while 177 supported it.
Emails unanimously opposed (858 to 0) the proposal to remove language stating "abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method" to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, emails were unanimous (844 to 0) in opposing the removal of the word "clergy" from a list of trusted adults.
Ruse and a group of other parents have been instrumental in voicing opposition and raising awareness about the changes proposed by the county's Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee.
"The [board] meeting last night was quite revealing. It pitted science against faith and huge dollops of emotion. Guess which side the objecting parents were on? Science," The Ruse op-ed state. "Speaker after speaker among parents invoked science. What was striking about the other side was their almost unbridled emotion, and that so many of them, men and women, wore Roman collars. They accused the parents of bad form for invoking God, but they were the ones in religious garb, and sermonizing."
Former FLECAC member Laura Hanford, who opposed the changes before she was removed from her position, told WTOP that the proposed changes "imprison students in half-truths and lies."
"Biological sex is not a mistake, it's not a stigma, it's not a choice," Hanford said.
She added that the proposal is "like saying some kids are colorblind so we're going to teach kids that color does not exist."
Last month, 10 area residents spoke at a school board meeting about the changes. Five parents warned the board that the proposed changes were "fatal" and even "almost criminal." Five area residents, including the Northern Virginia chairman of the pro-LGBT group GLSEN, spoke in defense of the proposal.
"Sex assigned at birth is not a made-up phrase by any political organization, it is not a part of some agenda, and it is certainly not designed to distort science or lead young people away from it," GLSEN Northern Virginia Chair David Aponte said, according to WTOP.
At the May 10 school board meeting held at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church, resident Kathleen Gillette-Mallard argued that the changes are measures being furthered by LGBT organizations, abortion groups and "Big Pharma."
"These organizations have received millions in private funding," she said. "No matter what you well-intentioned administrators believe, these changes to the FLE programs are designed to push an agenda, an agenda that confuses kids, devastates families and can even ... be fatal."