A former Austin Independent School District teacher is calling out the district, saying their sex education program is undergoing some major changes in the new school year---including teaching what she believes is an "LGBTQ agenda."
Saturday, a group called "Concerned Parents of Austin" held a meeting to talk about the messages they believe are being sent by the district and the choices parents have to opt out.
Caryl Ayala, a co-founder of the group, said before she left the district in 2016, staff members were introduced to training materials she felt normalized homosexuality and transgenderism. She says students as young as those in Pre-K are being taught sex-ed, and in some cases without their parents' consent.
Ayala feels the only way the school district can build trust is by being transparent.
That’s why she helped to host a meeting to show parents exactly what would be taught in each grade level, and what they lessons they can opt out of.
According to the group’s presentation, children in kindergarten and first grade would be taught technical terms of genitalia and ways to celebrate diversity in families, such as some children having two mothers or fathers.
By age seven, students would be taught “mostly girls have some parts that mostly just boys have” and being a boy or girl doesn’t have to mean you have those parts.
Ayala believes it’s up to the parents, not teachers, to have those discussions.
"We're not a group that says don't teach it -- we're not a group that says 'bury your head in the sand,' no of course not. We do teach our children, but we have a right to teach them what we want -- and what we feel they are ready to know,” Ayala said.
Still, students will have access to sex education books available at some schools, materials that talk about topics such as gender identity.
Others who attended the meeting felt the program would help with inclusion.
"If they don't agree with what they are teaching and they want to teach something different to their students then they absolutely have that right as a parent,” said Rimma Aguire, who attended the meeting. “And so they don't have to be learning that but it's the school's responsibility as a public institution that serves a wide variety of students -- not just those with Christian morals or Christian values -- they need to be teaching scientifically valid and appropriate stuff, otherwise they're just doing the kids a disservice."
AISD said teachers at a few dozen schools do participate in the "Welcoming Schools" program by campus request, but it's not a curriculum.
According to AISD, Welcoming Schools is an anti-bias approach that supports students in a developmentally appropriate way by providing opportunities for school staff to engage in conversations about embracing family diversity, creating gender-inclusive environments, and preventing bias-based bullying and name calling.
Ayala said students will still have access to sex education books available at some schools and materials that talk about topics such as gender identity.