Fort Worth ISD is one step away from having an abstinence-based sex education curriculum after going two school terms without one.
The district’s School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) voted to recommend an abstinence-based curriculum called Choosing the Best at its February 5 meeting. The next step will be for the school board to measure Choosing the Best against the state’s Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requirements at its next meeting on February 27.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the district’s choices on sex education curricula have been heavily scrutinized. In 2022, officials spent $2.5 million on a sex education program developed by the California-based company HealthSmart. However, Superintendent Angélica Ramsey opted to suspend the curriculum after parents and community members spoke out against it at school board meetings.
Choosing the Best saw considerable approval during the recent public review period held over four meetings prior to SHAC’s latest vote. The program, which stresses that the best way to avoid sexual risk is through abstinence, was also initially favored by an advocacy group called Texas Values, which hailed SHAC’s recommendation as “a positive step forward for parents and students” at Fort Worth ISD.
However, Texas Values retracted its opinion later on, claiming that a full review of Choosing the Best’s content revealed “LGBT language, condom instruction, and Plan B abortion pill content.” The group is now calling for this “very concerning content” to be removed prior to the curriculum’s adoption and deployment.
TEKS sets several requirements for sex education programs, including instruction on contraceptives, STIs, and sexual boundaries.
Fort Worth ISD has struggled academically for years, logging an 85.7% on-time graduation rate for the 2021-2022 school year. This may, in part, have led to a considerable decline in student enrollment figures, as extensively covered by The Dallas Express. Similarly, Dallas ISD has been losing students, with only 81.1% of its Class of 2022 graduating within four years.