The Fairfax County Public School Board could have voted to postpone a vote impacting the district's sexual education curriculum. But instead, the board voted 10-2 to keep part of the Family Life Education curriculum for students in kindergarten through tenth grade.
This means the school system will keep gender identity and sexual orientation in the curriculum while allowing parents to opt their children out.
About 186,000 students will be impacted by Thursday night's decision, which means students could start learning about gender identity and sexual orientation in seventh grade.
Supporters say it is a step in the right direction.
"It's certainly a step in the right direction of respecting more students and understanding the perspective of other students who have different gender identities or different sexual orientations," said David Aponte.
In the public hearing portion of the meeting, critics of adding these topics to the curriculum said the debate should go on, but outside the classroom. One person called it discrimination on students based on religion.
"The fact is not whether you opt out of the curriculum full of lies, it's that you shouldn't be using taxpayer money to develop a curriculum of lies in the first place," said Kathy Healy.
One parent said limited resources will now be wasted on lawsuits and public debate.
"I guess what we're going to see is what is the curriculum that is going to be developed, and I've got to tell you I'm afraid as a board member because we get involved in lawsuits," said school board member Elizabeth Schultz, who voted against this curriculum. "Now our time is going to be distracted and taken away from the real work of the board. We should be worried about educating 186,000 students and not about all of this peripheral political stuff."