A Virginia school board this month approved drastic changes to its district’s sex-education curriculum despite strong parental opposition.
The Fairfax County School Board, which governs one of the country’s largest school districts, voted on June 14 to change “biological sex” to “sex assigned at birth” across the curriculum, and removed clergy from a list of trusted adults. In addition, high school students will now learn about the HIV-prevention pill known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, which the Food and Drug Administration has not cleared for anyone under age 18. Students also will no longer learn “abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method” to avoid teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
“Biological sex is the medically and biologically accurate term to use when referring to a person’s sex, which includes chromosomes, hormones, and internal and external reproductive organs,” Hope Wojciech, a parent in the district, said during the long and contentious meeting. “A person’s sex is not something that is assigned at birth or otherwise. It is established at conception. … This is what students are taught in biology classes and should remain consistent throughout the curriculum.”
But others disagreed.
“Members of the transgender community and their families and allies prefer ‘sex assigned at birth,’” said Fairfax County teacher Claudia Wilde. “If we were to use a different term, we would be erasing those members of our community.”
After that meeting, the board received 1,300 comments on the proposed changes. By nearly 5-to-1, the commenters opposed changing “biological sex” and teaching about the pre-exposure prophylaxis pill. Almost all opposed the removal of clergy from the list of trusted adults and the removal of abstinence from the curriculum. American College of Pediatricians president Michelle Cretella and three local doctors sent a letter to the school board rejecting proposed medical justification for the changes.
Despite pushback, the board voted 10-1 to change the curriculum. —Charissa Crotts