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North East ISD pauses Sex Ed instruction

NEISD's board moved Tuesday to cancel sex education courses, fearing teachers might accidentally include lessons that have not yet earned district approval.

SAN ANTONIO — North East ISD schools will not offer sex education courses during the 2022-2023 schoolyear. 

The district's board Tuesday voted to indefinitely pause Human Sexuality and Abstinence Education (HSAE), fearing "well-meaning" instructors might accidentally teach new modules that still require special approval. 

"We want to ensure that any Human Sexuality and Abstinence Education curriculum we use is current, aligned to the new state standards and reviewed by parents at public meetings," district spokesperson Aubrey Chancellor wrote in a statement. 

Texas implemented new sex education curriculum standards this year for the first time since the 1990s. Courses will expand to include details on contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections, though the curriculum still centers on abstinence. 

New lessons will not include discussion of LGBTQ issues, gender identity, or abortion.

Parents have been allowed to keep children out of sex education classes by request. Under new laws, parents must now opt-in to the course, meaning students will not be automatically enrolled. 

North East ISD teachers are currently re-writing HSAE course material. A special panel that includes parents must recommend their changes to the school board for approval. 

Superintendent Sean Mika asked to pause sex education, concerned instructors working on new lesson plans would mistakenly blend unapproved teachings with the old curriculum. 

North East ISD parent Eva Sanchez said she doesn't think her students will miss out on important sex education lessons while the course is paused this year. 

"I have my middle schooler and my high schooler and both of them agree it's not even effective," she said. "The teachers are kind of awkward themselves."

She hopes the district will offer instructors specialized training while they re-write the lesson plans.  

"Parents need to take some of that responsibility, as well," she said. "It's still taboo to talk about. Like, it's 2022." 

Trustees aim to approve the new curriculum by May 2023, though some board members expressed concern they might not be able to do so. 

Chancellor says the district did not have a Director of Health to oversee the curriculum re-write and "got behind the eight ball." The district also did not write newly-required lesson plans on dating violence, sex trafficking, and family violence prevention.

It's not clear whether the district is in violation of state guidelines by altogether pausing sex education.

"That's a good question," Mika said. "I asked it too."

In the interim, existing course curriculum will be available on North East ISD's website. Trustees encouraged parents to go over the material with their children, if they choose to do so. 

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