The Fairfax County Public School board is preparing to vote on a new family life education curriculum that will add gender identity and sexual orientation to the lessons for students as young as middle school.
FCPS says revisions to lesson objectives include moving some objectives from Family Life Education to meet new Virginia Department of Education revised Standards of Learning for health education.
Part of the proposal includes adding discussion in eighth grade about “gender (biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual). The concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum will be introduced.”
Two weeks ago, the school board voted to add gender identity to its non-discrimination policy. That vote came at a raucous school board meeting where there was much opposition to the proposal.
Several parents speaking at Thursday’s school board meeting had issues with the proposed curriculum, as well as the proposal that some FLE lessons would now be considered general health lessons, which makes it more difficult to opt out.
Parents or guardians will still be able to opt their child out of any remaining objectives in Family Life Education, FCPS said.
“I ask that you keep it all ‘opt out’ ” said FCPS parent Patty Healy, representing Concerned Parents and Educators of Fairfax County. “School is not the place for social engineering.”
“This is the second time this month [that FCPS] is looking at something not based on facts and science but instead is ideologically driven.”
Another parent, Laura Hanford, said that teaching these lessons “usurps the rights of parents.”
“It is you rewriting the blueprint of your morality,” she told the school board, asking that they take a step back, take more time and truly engage families and faith communities in further discussion.
Student Sam Runner, president of West Springfield’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), said access to earlier information could have saved him much anguish.
“Currently, FCPS does not provide resources on this topic, leaving LGBT students isolated and confused,” he told the board via video. “In seventh grade, I was suspicious I may be gay and that terrified me. I did not know anything about gay people. I had years of depression and self loathing.
Runner said adding the topics in middle school will help all students.
“It will teach LGBT kids that what they are feeling is normal,” he said. “And [teach] non-LGBT that LGBT kids are still normal. That will improve morale and academic performance. I hope you take a stand and say yes to less bullying and more acceptance.”
FCPS says all comments will be shared with School Board members at the conclusion of the community review process, which ends June 19. The school board will vote on the changes on June 25.