As we should have expected in this red city, Fort Worth school district leaders recently caved to demands by a few dozen anti-woke warriors that board members scrap plans to purchase online sex-ed materials from HealthSmart, an Irving-based health-care service provider. Speakers citing transgender paranoia and baseless allegations that public schools are sexualizing children sprinkled in Biblical references to remind board members that the Lawdy Lawd was watching last week’s meeting.
During public comments, several parents advocated for a sex-ed program based on a 3,000-year-old magic novel, which could go several ways if taken literally since the Old Testament views menstruating women as “unclean” while Jesus, a dutiful Buddhist, openly fraternized with prostitutes.
Following the meeting, recently appointed superintendent Angélica Ramsey said in a public statement that the board’s decision to delay adopting any sex-ed curriculum effectively means an end to reproduction health education for the remainder of the semester. #cowards
State guidelines adopted by the Texas State Board of Education in 2020 mandate that fifth graders, for example, learn how to identify and report sexual harassment and signs of sex trafficking. Listening to last week’s public comments from right-wing mouth-breathers would mistakenly leave some with the impression that school teachers are encouraging improper behavior in youths.
Jenna Hill-Higgs, a longtime retired public school teacher, said the parents who spoke against sex-ed curriculum likely have no idea what is being taught and how.
“We would always make sure to tell students that, if they have further questions, they should talk to a trusted adult, like a parent,” Hill-Higgs said, referring to her 18-year career teaching middle schoolers.
The notion that teenagers should discuss reproductive health and gender-related issues only at home demonstrates a lack of understanding of how the minds of teenagers develop, she continued.
“Once kids get in middle school, they start listening to their peers more than parents,” she said. “That is just part of becoming an adult. I don’t believe that a bit of knowledge would hurt” students.
Hill-Higgs, who was raised by two lesbian mothers, sees homophobia as the driving force behind much of the backlash against sex-ed curriculum. She believes conservative parents aim to cut any mention of nonbinary, nonheterosexual vocabulary from classroom lessons rather than acknowledging a sizeable percentage of the student population.
One in five Gen Z adults (ages 18 to 26) identifies as LGBTQ+, based on a recent Gallup poll, while 7% of all adults in this country identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, meaning youths are more likely to identify as nonhetero than adults. By any measure, the United States is becoming gayer and gayer with every passing year.
Shortly after retiring, Hill-Higgs opened Liberty Lounge, a Near Southside bar that openly welcomes folks of all kinds. She plans to host meetups and happy hours for like-minded folks (who presumably do not think Leviticus counts as a sex-education resource) to connect, organize, and speak up in favor of educating children on basic stuff like what causes pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and that not everyone fits within the binary gender paradigm.
The real groomers indoctrinating children, she added, are parents who misuse religion and homophobia to teach their children that being straight equates to godliness while everyone else is somehow living in sin.
“These parents are trying to say, ‘If you are not like me, you’re wrong,’ ” Hill-Higgs said. “That is a horrible world to live in.”
Follow Liberty Lounge @Liberty.Lounge.FW for updates on how to support LGBTQ+ youths at Fort Worth ISD and student access to basic sex-ed-related information.
This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for concision and clarity.