Lessons on homosexuality and gender identity have been included in the public schools' curriculum in the state of Virginia in the US, drawing opposition from some parents.
The board of the Fairfax County Public Schools approved the lessons under the Family Life Education Curriculum in a 10-2 vote last June 25, according to CBN News.
According to recommendations by the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee to the school board, in Grade 8, the recommended lesson objective in emotional and social health is for students to identify "that development of individual identity occurs over a lifetime and includes the component of sexual orientation and gender identity."
Instruction will include development of an individual, with individual identity described in four parts: "biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual)."
Grade 9 students will also be taught about sexual orientation terms including heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. The gender identity term transgender will also be defined. Those with "questions or concerned about their sexual orientation or gender identity will be advised to talk with a parent, member of the clergy, trusted adult, or counselor."
Parents opposing the lessons reportedly said they won't have the power to opt their children out of the lessons as these were moved to the mandatory health classes.
One of them is Laura Hanford, who said that lessons on gender identity and family constructs are not in the Virginia State Health Standards as claimed by the school board.
"In 30 of the busiest days of the year, you presented us with a curriculum so extreme on gender and sexuality that it offended families and people of faith across the county," Hanford said during the board meeting, according to CNS News.
"Your own directives on community engagement say that your desired outcome is that stakeholders feel a part of the solution. Is this a room full of satisfied stakeholders?" she asked.
Because of the opposition, the school board changed its decision and voted to retain 15 of the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee lesson objectives in the Family Life Education curriculum rather than in the health curriculum.
"The School Board this evening took action by adopting, with amendment, the recommendations of the Family Life Education (FLE) Curriculum Advisory Committee that balances the educational needs of our students while respecting the rights of parents to opt out of FLE lessons," said school board chair Tamara Derenak Kaufax in a statement issued on June 25.
She said all FLE designated lessons will continue to have an opt-out provision.
"We respect parents' rights to make the choices they believe are in the best interest of their families," she said.
She said the Virginia Department of Education has established guidelines for school divisions to follow in the implementation of an FLE program that is developed locally, including the Fairfax County Public Schools.