Florida School Board Members Clash Over Definition of Woman During Sex Education Debate
Broward County, Florida, school board members met to debate the County’s sex education curriculum, and the meeting ended up in a clash over the “definition of a woman.”
School Board member Brenda Fam got the ball rolling by demanding to know the district’s curricular definition Tuesday, arguing that parents want clarity on the matter. Fam Stated,
“They want to know what the definition is in the sexual education curriculum,” Fam said at the meeting. “Specifically, what individuals can get pregnant and what individuals can give birth?”
Board member Sarah Leonardi pushed back on the question by stating that Fam was pursuing a “political” agenda.
“The goal of all of us being here is to support children,” she said. “And to educate children. Not to engage in a political line of questioning that distracts from that mission.”
Leonardi also stated that gender identity discussions were banned in some grades, specifically kindergarten through the third grade.
Fam countered that the answers to her question would determine whether some parents exit public schools in favor of private or charter schools.
“This is going to weigh heavy on them and whether or not they choose to leave the public school system or whether they stay based on some of these responses,” she continued. “They are very serious. They want answers to these questions.”
Interim Superintendent Earleen Smiley didn’t know if the curriculum contained gender definitions.
“That question is more than a question,” she said. “It’s a thought process, and it’s an examination of a lot of laws based on a lot of things. I’m procrastinating and hesitating because there is no clear-cut answer I could give you at this point.”
Fam responded that the terms “man” and “woman” had been used in official proceedings last year.
“At that time, it wasn’t very difficult to decide,” she said. “So, what has now changed where we don’t recognize what’s a man and what’s a woman?”
It was decided that research was needed on whether the curriculum included gender definitions and reported back to the board.
Fam stated that parents had a right to know the district’s position.
“I think these are crucial terms,” she contended. “I think they’re actually very basic terms. This shouldn’t be a difficult response.”
The exchange is part of a broader debate over the proposed overhaul of Broward’s sex-ed curriculum to make it “abstinence-based.”
The Broward School district issued an amended curriculum after receiving a letter from the State Department of Education last year directing it to align its sex education with state standards.
The proposed changes would back discussions of puberty, HIV/AIDS, sexual molestation, and contraception at specific grade levels.
The board eventually tabled the debate and will revisit the subject at the May school board meeting.
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