When parents found out about the “visual aids” that a northern Florida school district was planning to pass out to middle school students in reproductive health class, they were shocked and disgusted, and they made it clear that they would be speaking up at the next school board meeting.
Parents were upset about the contents of the kits, which include seven-inch wooden “condom demonstrators” in the shape of male genitalia, along with colorful condoms. The kits are intended for use by students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.
Members of Moms for Liberty, County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF) and other enraged parents showed up at a Sept. 12 school board meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, to object to the use of the kits, parent Melissa Bernhardt told The Epoch Times.
Bernhardt, who is lead educator for Duval’s CCDF chapter, didn’t disclose how she found out about the kits, but said her source was “solid” and told her that $200 worth of kits had been purchased for use in Duval County schools. Duval officials didn’t confirm the purchase.
But before the start of the school board meeting where use of the kits was set to be discussed, a statement appeared on the Duval County Public Schools website announcing a change to its meeting agenda.
“Florida Statutes require that districts teach certain topics in health and reproductive education,” it reads.
“However, those textbooks do not address all statutory requirements. Therefore, it is necessary for districts to purchase or create supplemental materials to meet the requirements of law.”
The kits were considered supplemental materials.
School Superintendent Diana Greene said in the statement: “It has become abundantly clear to me that our internal team can create lessons and materials that serve students’ educational needs and meet our requirements under the law.
“Starting from scratch and adhering to the boundaries of Florida Statute will be a far easier task than trying to modify or find existing publisher materials that may or may not meet Florida’s standards.”
The Duval County School Board later released a statement that appeared to defend the plan to use the kits.
‘We Didn’t Think He Was Ready’Duval County parent Mara Macie told The Epoch Times that she transferred her four children to charter schools after her eldest son’s eighth grade health education teacher told the class about “flavored condoms.”
“It wasn’t just about the flavored condoms,“ Macie said, ”but the fact that the banana flavor is not tasty, and the strawberry flavor is good. And then she offered them to students. Show me where that is appropriate in the curriculum.”
Macie also was shocked to hear her son’s account of how the teacher demonstrated how to put on a condom, by holding her index and middle fingers together and putting the condom on them with her other hand.
“When she would take it off, she would just let it snap and fling across the room,” Macie said.
The following day, her son didn’t attend the class due to illness, she said, but a classmate told him that visual aids or pictures of male genitalia were used as part of the lesson for that day.
“He shouldn’t have been exposed to some of these things,” Macie said. “As his parents, we didn’t think he was ready for some of these things.”
According to its website, ETR bases much of its curriculum on something it calls the “health equities framework,” which is based on “equity at the core of health outcomes; multiple, interacting spheres of influence; and a historical and life-course perspective.”
The framework is designed to provide “fair access to opportunities and resources that are needed to achieve optimal physical, emotional and social well-being,” the website states.
Because of those goals, Bernhardt is concerned that instruction on transgender issues will lead to “gender confusion” among children at an age when they’re already biologically programmed to be confused by natural hormonal changes.
The curriculum seems to push a “woke” agenda, she said, instead of focusing on state standards that require teaching about avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
“My biggest fear is that they’re going to just create a curriculum behind our backs that’s going to be LGBTQ-based and Planned Parenthood-based,” she said.
Bernhardt said she wanted to know more about the proposed ETR program, so she ordered the 30-day free trial kit and was surprised by what she learned about the organization.
The Epoch Times reached out to the Florida Department of Education and was referred to publicly available state statutes and standards.
“This statute states, ‘The district school board has the constitutional duty and responsibility to select and provide adequate instructional materials for all students in accordance with the requirements of this part.’”
Duval County Public Schools and ETR didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Epoch Times.
Florida state Sen. Keith Perry, who represents the eighth district in northern Florida, reacted to what he saw on the ETR website.
“I’m going to absolutely do everything I can with the Department of Education to make sure that parents understand and know what is being taught, and that whatever is being taught is appropriate,” he told The Epoch Times. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Perry said that what’s needed across the state is “consistency” in the curriculum.
“It makes it a lot more transparent and easier to have all school districts have the same curriculum,” he said.
An added benefit to making the curriculum consistent throughout the state is the cost break that could be involved for the 67 school districts.
“If you look at the cost [with a consistent curriculum], you wouldn’t have to spend on 67 different things, like procuring different kinds of textbooks and stuff that certainly can be bought at a much better rate. So there are some cost benefits,” Perry said.
The senator said he engages in “fact and data gathering” when he attends meetings and speaks to community and religious groups, and that he encourages parents to go to their school boards to find out what’s being taught to their children.
Parents need to be more involved in their children’s education, and schools need more “transparency,” he said.
“Schools are government entities. They are part of the government. And it’s inappropriate for the government to be involved in some of these things,“ such as graphic sex instruction,” Perry said.
“They’re not transparent. Schools need to make it easy for all curricula to be examined and looked at.”
Both Macie and Bernhardt agree that people need to be more careful about the candidates who ask for their votes, especially in school board races.
“We willingly give [power] to other people, from school board members all the way to the president [of the United States],” Macie said. “We’ve got to take our power back. That’s the only way to fix this.”