‘Reproductive health materials’ agenda item withdrawn from Board Meeting agenda

Sept. 12, 2022 – A Duval County School Board agenda item related to supplemental curriculum materials for reproductive health and disease prevention has been withdrawn from the Sept. 12 board meeting agenda.

Instead of adopting materials from any publishing company, the district will create its own supplemental materials to meet educational requirements defined in Florida statues.

Why are supplemental materials needed?

Florida Statutes require that districts teach certain topics in health and reproductive education.

School districts must use state-approved textbooks for health education. However, those textbooks do not address all statutory requirements. Therefore, it is necessary for districts to purchase or create supplemental materials to meet the requirements of law.

“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,” said Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene. “Starting from scratch and adhering to the boundaries of Florida Statute will be a far easier task than trying modify or find existing publisher materials that may or may not meet Florida’s standards.”

Next steps

The district will assemble a team of health educators to develop new materials and lessons. Their recommended materials and lessons will be available to the public 20 days prior to a future school board meeting in which a public hearing will be scheduled. Members of the public will be able to share their comments during that public hearing, and the school board will have the opportunity to approve the new materials at that time. 

No specific deadline has been set, but the district will be working to ensure students in current academic year health classes receive legally required instruction.

A 2021 revision of state law requires that school boards annually approve all supplemental materials “used to teach reproductive health or any disease, including HIV/AIDS, its symptoms, development, and treatment … .”  

Relevant Florida statutes

Statute 1003.42 (n) requires:

“Comprehensive health education that addresses concepts of community health; consumer health; environmental health; family life, including an awareness of the benefits of sexual abstinence as the expected standard and the consequences of teenage pregnancy; mental and emotional health; injury prevention and safety; Internet safety; nutrition; personal health; prevention and control of disease; and substance use and abuse. The health education curriculum for students in grades 7 through 12 shall include a teen dating violence and abuse component that includes, but is not limited to, the definition of dating violence and abuse, the warning signs of dating violence and abusive behavior, the characteristics of healthy relationships, measures to prevent and stop dating violence and abuse, and community resources available to victims of dating violence and abuse.”

Statute 1003.46 requires mandatory education on acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It states:

“Each district school board may provide instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome education as a specific area of health education. Such instruction may include, but is not limited to, the known modes of transmission, signs and symptoms, risk factors associated with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and means used to control the spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The instruction shall be appropriate for the grade and age of the student and shall reflect current theory, knowledge, and practice regarding acquired immune deficiency syndrome and its prevention.

(2) Throughout instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, or health education, when such instruction and course material contains instruction in human sexuality, a school shall:

(a) Teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage.

(b) Emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity is a certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, including acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and other associated health problems.

(c) Teach that each student has the power to control personal behavior and encourage students to base actions on reasoning, self-esteem, and respect for others.

(d) Provide instruction and material that is appropriate for the grade and age of the student.”

Statute 1003.42 was amended in the 2021 Florida Legislature with this addition: (b) All instructional materials, as defined in s. 1006.29(2), used to teach reproductive health or any disease, including HIV/AIDS, its symptoms, development, and treatment, as part of the courses referenced in subsection (5), must be annually approved by a district school board in an open, noticed public

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