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Fort Worth ISD approves abstinence-based sexual ed curriculum, reactions mixed

Fort Worth ISD approves abstinence-based sexual ed curriculum
Fort Worth ISD approves abstinence-based sexual ed curriculum 02:07

FORT WORTH – Parents and students had mixed reactions Wednesday after the Fort Worth school board unanimously approved purchasing an abstinence-based sexual education curriculum this week.

Tuesday night's decision came after Fort Worth ISD bought another curriculum called "HealthSmart" for more than $2 million. However, the district found out in January 2023 that it did not follow state law when purchasing the program and decided to adopt an entirely new curriculum.

Parents, students and community members shared their thoughts with the board on the new sexual education "Choosing the Best" curriculum.

"Instead of learning about my body functions, I put my education in the hands of the people who do not understand, nor care for my risk of being uninformed," one Fort Worth high school student said at Tuesday's meeting. 

"Abstaining from all sexual activity is the only 100 percent safe and effective way to avoid teen pregnancy and STDs," another parent said at the meeting. 

District leaders say the curriculum aligns with state law and part of the program will encourage students to delay having sex until marriage. 

Trina Harris, a member of Parent Shield Fort Worth, which is a group made up of Fort Worth ISD parents, said she has heard mixed reactions from parents about the new program. 

"There were several parents who were saying, 'I'm not for neither one – neither one of the curriculums (HealthSmart or Choosing the Best).' They are telling me, 'Let me be the parent and have this sensitive conversation with my children at home,'" Harris said. 

Harris also said some parents like the new curriculum because it allows parents to have an "opt-in option," where they can pick the topics for their children. 

"We want to be able to articulate what is going on," Harris said. "But, ultimately, if a curriculum did need to be passed, then this new curriculum works. That way [parents] can still engage in the conversations, but ultimately, our parents want transparency." 

Fort Worth ISD sent CBS News Texas a statement that reads in part: 

"Choosing the Best will serve as the human sexuality education curriculum and the existing HealthSmart curriculum will continue to be used for health classes, offering our students the opportunity to engage in high-quality learning experiences aligned with state standards. The Choosing the Best curriculum emphasizes informed decision-making and healthy behaviors within its comprehensive approach to human sexuality education.

"Fort Worth ISD places high importance on parental involvement in children's education, in accordance with Texas law. An active consent (opt-in) policy is in place, requiring families to opt their children into the human sexuality education instruction. Families may review the curriculum materials before providing their consent."

The district says the curriculum was approved unanimously by the board Tuesday and approved by a group of parents last year. Fort Worth ISD also says the curriculum will be taught from sixth grade through high school. 

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