Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton demanded the Fort Worth Independent School District release a copy of its sixth grade human sexuality curriculum after parents complained they were “repeatedly denied” access to the instructional materials.
On Thursday evening, Paxton wrote to Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Paredes Scribner and school board president Tobi Jackson in response to parents’ outcries that the district denied them access to the curriculum. Parents also said students were prohibited from bringing a copy of their textbooks home for parental review or from taking photos of these materials.
“Parents have the right to inspect and review information regarding what their child is learning and participating in while attending school,” commented Paxton in a prepared statement. “By law, public school curriculum should be fully available to the public, and parents retain their constitutional rights to direct their own child’s upbringing. Denying parental and public access to curriculum of any kind is a clear violation of the Texas Education Code.”
In the letter, Paxton asked Fort Worth ISD to provide his office with a complete copy of the sixth grade human sexuality curriculum, which he said has been used at 22 Fort Worth ISD schools since 2015 and taught to roughly 18,000 sixth grade students.
“Although Dr. Scribner told local media that anyone can access the human sexuality textbook by asking for a copy from the school principal, parents said Dr. Scribner prohibited them and their children from bringing a copy of the textbook home for inspection or from taking pictures of the curriculum,” wrote Paxton in the letter.
In May, KDFW reported a group of parents said leaked Fort Worth ISD sex ed materials dealt with transgender, homosexuality, and gender identity topics which they felt were not appropriate for 12-year-old children to learn.
Additionally, parent advocates Stand for Fort Worth complained they were denied access to review the course’s textbook, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The local watchdog group started a petition. It accused Fort Worth ISD of hiding transgender curriculum from parents and asserted schools forbade students from taking home class materials. In 2016, Stand for Fort Worth opposed transgender bathroom guidelines Ft. Worth ISD implemented. They said the district tried to silence voices that disagreed with these policies.
The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) health education standards for sixth grade outlines “health behaviors that will safeguard their health as well as information related to understanding puberty and the reproductive process” but it does not specify sexuality and gender identity issues. However, under Title 19 of the Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 74, it states that a school district “may add elements at its discretion” to its health education listed in the TEKS but it “must not delete or omit” specified instruction.
“The United States Constitution protects the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children,” wrote the AG. He reminded Fort Worth ISD that by withholding the requested materials, the school district violated Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code (TEC), also known as the “Parents Bill of Rights.”
Chapter 26 provides parents access to all written records a school district maintains on their child as well as full information regarding the child’s school activities. Paxton also cited the education code’s Chapter 28.004(j) which grants parents and the public “an unfettered right” to inspect a school district’s human sexuality curriculum.
In the letter, the AG referenced his 2016 non-binding opinion on parental rights, rendered after Fort Worth ISD rolled out controversial transgender guidelines that withheld certain student information from their parents. Ultimately, the school district revised its transgender policies to a tamer version with input from Paxton.
The AG gave Fort Worth ISD 10 business days to respond to the letter with a complete copy of the sixth-grade sex ed materials, encouraging them to “heed” the parental rights embedded in the state’s education code “lest the district risk legal liability for failure to comply.”
On Friday, Breitbart Texas spoke to Fort Worth ISD spokesman Clint Bond. He said the school district has not yet received the AG’s letter and that their administrative offices were closed until Monday when he anticipates they will get it. He also remarked, “This matter came to our attention in mid-May and we addressed it then.” He stated that parents are “certainly allowed” to review the sixth grade human sexuality materials and that has “always been the case.” Bond said, from what he has heard, he fears there may have been a “misunderstanding” at one of their schools.
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