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Published on February 28, 2024
Fort Worth ISD Trustees Approve New Abstinence-Centric Sex-Ed Program Amid Public UproarSource: Google Street View

Controversy stirred in Fort Worth ISD as trustees voted to greenlight a new sex-ed program championing abstinence. The board's unanimous decision follows weeks of heated debate and community protests. With a price tag of approximately $72,200, the "Choosing the Best" curriculum edges out the previously favored "Health Smart" and sets the stage for classroom implementation this spring, as reported by FOX 4 News.

Last month saw the Special Health Advisory Committee vouch for the new program, lining up with Texas law's abstinence-first requirement for sex education. Amidst cheers and jeers outside the school district boardroom, parents split into factions; some heralded the curriculum for encouraging "healthier choices," prepping kids with what supporters believe is essential knowledge for their wellbeing. On the other side of the divide, skeptics handcuffed distrust of the curriculum, convinced politics are plugging into what should be a politically free zone of learning for their children.

"Sexual avoidance curriculum emphasizes healthier choices and presents information with the person's best interest, as you heard over and over tonight," argued Mary Smith, a supporter of the new curriculum. Meanwhile, opponents like Judith Stemple slam the fiscal responsibility, saying, "The ‘Health Smart’ curriculum has already been purchased. And given the district’s current financial situation, it seems irresponsible to pay an additional $70,000 plus to purchase this curriculum that does the same thing we already have in an inferior way," she told FOX 4 News.

In the buildup to the heated vote, district trustees were faced with three options outlined by Fort Worth ISD's School Health Advisory Council—greenlight "Choosing the Best," reevaluate for an alternative, or stall with more research. Having been nudged back in August 2023 to weigh their options among six curricula, the council eventually lent its weight behind the most abstinence-heavy of the lot. Fort Worth ISD expects to roll out the new sex-ed classes this year, funded by the lingering ESSER COVID relief dollars set to expire come September 30, as uncovered in a statement by district spokesman Jessica Becerra—obtained by the Fort Worth Report.

While this turn of events brings to close the curriculum controversy for now, it leaves open the wider, always-simmering pot of how such education should be conducted. Parents will still reserve the right to opt their students out of the classes, a slight nod to the choice amidst a mandate that has not, after all the commotion, sat well with everyone.