TUSD meeting on inclusive curriculum ends in no vote
The Tucson Unified School District governing board had a meeting yesterday to vote on whether to have the Family Life sexual education curriculum in their schools. However, the board ultimately did not come to a decision and delayed the vote instead.
The two-week curriculum would be taught to students from fourth grade through high school. The content would differ based on students' age, with the sex and sexuality portion not taught until the sixth grade.
Among the proposed changes to the curriculum is the inclusion of medically accurate information that is more inclusive of LGBTQ+ sexuality and genders.
Brooklyn Richards is a sophomore political science student at the University of Arizona who attended the second TUSD Family Life Curriculum Meeting, which ended in a walkout by LGBTQ+ members and allies on Aug. 22. According to Richards, this curriculum would cover a wide range of topics.
“It’s actually fourth-graders all through high school,” Richards said. “Each grade would have age-appropriate curriculum and, right now, they have nothing. Not only is it LGBT-friendly, it also stresses consent, which is super important, personal boundaries and that kind of thing. So, it’s having basically having something that’s not just abstinence, only curriculum.”
The meeting was held inside an auditorium room at Duffy Family and Community Center but became full quickly. People filled the courtyard and a TV was supplied outside so the crowd could see and hear what was happening inside.
The large number of people was made up of both supporters of the curriculum and protesters.
Chanting and shouting filled the air throughout the night. Protesters of the curriculum started the night off with their chanting of “We vote no."
Advocates of the Family Life Curriculum volleyed back with “Latinos votamos sí,” “Vote yes,” and “Jesús ama a todos.”
Homemade signs were held throughout the five-hour meeting. They showed a diverse range of messages including “Keep your hands off my childhood,” “My child, my choice,” and "Vote no on CSE or we opt out of TUSD,” in opposition and “You can’t erase us,” “Trans and Queer youth exist and need representation,” and “Respect all genders," in support.
The TUSD governing board allowed those in the audience of the meeting, who signed up to speak, to say why they wanted or did not want the new curriculum in their schools.
Yolanda Lucarno, a mother and grandmother of students at TUSD schools, said she disagrees with the Family Life Curriculum because she thinks it inhibits parents' rights and goes against her culture.
“I do not agree that my children and grandchildren [should] have this kind of sex education at school,” Lucarno said. “I have the rights to teach my children about sex at home in my own way at a proper age. This is a parent’s rights. Please let me do my job. Please. As a mother, TUSD has given us no choice but to remove our children and grandchildren from TUSD [and] put them in a public charter school.”
Natalie Wilson, a biologist, said that curriculum like Family Life Curriculum is important and would have positively impacted her when she was young and struggling with her identity.
"If you aren’t ready [for questions] your kids might have about people like me, that do exist, well, all families have to do is do nothing," Wilson said. "The Family Life Curriculum is completely opt-in — completely up to each and every family, and what I’m hearing is people that don’t trust families to make that choice. Telling people about my existence is not indoctrination. Telling children I and people like me exist is the truth about the world, its diversity and its complications, which is what education is about. So, please vote yes on the curriculum.”
At the end of the meeting, the general board decided that it would not vote on whether it would have the curriculum in its schools. They said the tension throughout the night and the many concerns brought up from protesters led them to not make a decision.
However, the board did say they will revise the curriculum keeping in mind what was said by all those at the meeting with hopes that it could be voted on in a meeting in the future.
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