JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — Students at public schools in Jacksonville will have a new sex education curriculum for the remainder of this academic year and beyond. The Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) board announced Monday evening that they will oversee development for a new curriculum that will satisfy current state statutes.
The announcement came two hours before the start of a DCPS board meeting during which a vote on existing materials was slated. DCPS tweeted the decision to remove “reproductive health supplementary materials” from the agenda, in favor of creating new materials.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
“It has become abundantly clear to me that our internal team can create lessons and materials that serve students’ educational needs and meet our requirements under the law,” DCPS superintendent Diana Greene said in a statement. “Starting from scratch and adhering to the boundaries of Florida Statute will be a far easier task than trying to modify or find existing publisher materials that may or may not meet Florida’s standards.”
The board said it will assemble a team of health educators to develop new materials and lessons. Once drafted, the public will receive access to the materials 20 days before the school board votes on whether or not they will approve the new curriculum. The district did not provide details on what students will be taught during the current academic year, but will be “working to ensure” they receive legally required instruction.
MORE CHANGES TO SEX TOPICS
Over the past year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law three prominent bills aimed at protecting parents’ rights, ensuring sex and gender related topics are age appropriate and increasing transparency in schools. The DCPS announcement cited a 2021 revision of state law requiring school boards to approve all supplemental materials “used to teach reproductive health or any disease, including HIV/AIDS, its symptoms, development, and treatment.”
In April, DCPS board member Charlotte Joyce filed a resolution to update the district’s “LGBTQ+ Support Guide” to remove the phrase, “It is never appropriate to divulge the sexual orientation of a student to a parent,” saying it violates state law related to parents’ rights. Among other things, the guide articulates how schools should handle LGBTQ issues such as “restroom use, names, pronouns, overnight field trips, dress codes, prom events, inclusive language,” according to News4Jax. Nearly 300 people signed up to speak during the public comment portion of the subsequent meeting. One month later, DCPS announced the support guide would be revised.
Future board decisions will be made by a board that is comprised of a 4–3 majority of registered Republicans, after Charlotte Joyce retained her post and April Carney unseated Elizabeth Anderson in last month’s election.