Fairfax votes in controversial sex ed changes

First slide

The Fairfax County Public School Board voted June 14 to amend its Family Life Education Curriculum, changing ‘biological sex’ to ‘sex assigned at birth’, among other changes. During the public comment period in the days leading up to the vote, an overwhelming majority of the 1,300 people who submitted comments wrote that they disapproved of the changes. 

The board rejected a change that would have removed the clergy from a list of trusted adults. 

“While I am pleased that the Fairfax County School Board has voted to retain clergy among the list of people our youth ought to consider trusted adults, I am nevertheless disappointed to see the Board has chosen ideology over biology in introducing such terms as ‘sex assigned at birth’ in place of ‘biological sex’ in the schools’ Family Life Education (FLE) curriculum," said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.

"It is also distressing to see students receiving information about the  drug regimen PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) while at the same time not learning that abstinence is the only 100% effective way of preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  As a community committed to proclaiming the truth about human life, dignity and sexuality, the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Arlington will continue its efforts to educate the public regarding the content of the FLE curriculum and encourage parents to exercise their God-given right to ‘opt-out’ their children from those lessons that distort the truth and are morally offensive,” he said.

“I think it's incredibly sad to ignore parents and the community to move forward to adopt false and ideologically driven content,” said School Board Member Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield), a parishioner of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton. “It undermines the right of citizens to a transparent government. With the number of comments received, clearly your community is telling you — do not do this, you have not engaged us, you are not representing our voice.”

The meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church was filled with supporters of the changes wearing pink and purple, and the opposition — including many local Catholics — wearing green. Representatives from both sides spoke to the school board before the vote.

The new curriculum will not list any of the negative side effects of contraception or of gender transitioning. Students will not be taught that abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

The Fairfax County Public School system is the 10th largest school division in the country with 198 schools and centers and more than 188,000 students. Many smaller districts around the country often emulate its policies, said Schultz.

“You have a rogue school board that is going to do what it’s going to do regardless of the number of comments received,” said Schultz. “They’ve reached this edge of the envelope, but they are not finished.”

Learn more about the changes here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that one of the proposed changes was approved; it was rejected. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

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