“Texas is a very diverse state, obviously, and the more than 200 rural school districts that I represent, I wanted to give them the freedom and flexibility to include some of these elements in their curriculum, in their teaching, if they wish. do it, ”he said at Friday’s meeting.
More than 20 hours of public commentary, from all political backgrounds, were heard in June and September on revisions to the state’s health education standards. Ricardo Martinez, chief executive of Equality Texas, an LGBTQ advocacy group, testified several times ahead of Friday’s vote and said the exclusion of language on gender identity, sexual orientation and consent hampered the ability of students to navigate the world.
“You change hearts and minds by educating people about the experiences of those around them,” he said in an interview. “Stealing from people, especially at this age, to receive their vital information on how you can make others feel included, you are violating them as well as their preparation to step out into the world.”
Mary Elizabeth Castle, policy advisor for conservative organization Texas Values, said the council’s decisions against LGBTQ consent and identity language were a clear signal to promote “avoidance of sexual risks to children.”
“Left, political and personal ideologies have no place in common sense, science-based health education, which is why efforts to add topics of sexual orientation and identity gender have failed, ”she said.
Dan Quinn, a spokesperson and research director for the Texas Freedom Network, said most Texans favor comprehensive sex education, despite what he called “fear tactics” by opponents.
A public opinion poll conducted by another non-partisan group, The Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, found that about 75% of respondents, including 68% Republicans, supported education that covers abstinence and contraceptives.