FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Parents are protesting a proposed new sex education policy in Fairfax County. Those opposed to it say the new curriculum would promote transgender issues and encourage the use of contraceptives instead of abstinence.
On Thursday night, school board members heard from people on both sides of the issue. Supporters of the new sex education proposal say it is more reflective of the human experience. They believe it is more forward-thinking and inclusive of LGBTQ and transgender students. But those against the proposed new curriculum say it goes too far - without teaching kids about some of the health risks.
A special panel filled with representatives appointed by the school board, members of the school community such as teachers and administrators, and even people there representing students put the new curriculum together over several months.
One of the biggest changes they'have proposed is to include more transgender curriculum. They would like to strike references to "biological sex" and replace those references with "sex assigned at birth" to emphasize that gender is an individual choice.
The new curriculum would also expand lessons on the different types of contraception available to teenage girls. Those opposed to the new curriculum say it does not, however, include the risks associated with contraception.
One of the biggest arguments Thursday came in the form of an HIV prevention drug. The new curriculum would teach students about pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, as it is known. Those in support say it is necessary for young men. Others feel it promotes unprotected sex.
"Leading AIDS experts call it a catastrophe because it encourages risky sex," explained one mother who is opposed to the new curriculum. "And here's the kicker - PrEP is not even approved by the FDA for children under 18."
"No matter what our moral convictions are about LGBT issues, we know that young people will engage in sex outside of what our society calls 'the norm,'" said another woman in favor of the new curriculum. "Letting them know it is available is giving them a chance at being a little responsible, even if they are not going to be entirely responsible."
Public comment is open until June 8 when the board will vote on whether or not to adopt the new plan.