District cancels Sex-ed


Maya Per

Paschal health student navigates online HealthSmart curriculum without the sex education component.

Maya Perez, Reporter

 Three hundred Paschal students, enrolled in health class this year, will not be receiving the typical 8 hour sex education instruction after superintendent Angelica Ramsey announced the district has not adopted a Human Sexuality Curriculum.


    The decision to halt sex education came after months of debate between the board, FWISD’s School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), community members, students, and parents. The sex education HealthSmart Curriculum has been a contentious topic since April 2022 when FWISD effectively purchased it. 


   SHAC reviewed the HealthSmart Human Sexuality curriculum and notified the board of their recommendation in August. The curriculum appeared on the agenda of the October 25, 2022 FWISD board meeting but was ultimately pulled by Superintendent, Dr. Ramsey. 


Complications with SHAC


    Hailey Sinclair, Fort Worth parent, nurse, and co-chair of SHAC, described the poor communication between SHAC and the district as major contributors to the failure to adopt a curriculum for the school year.


   “There were a series of events during the fall that delayed that and then prevented those 2500 students from getting into their health curriculum,” Sinclair said.  “We asked parents to go above and beyond to get active consent. This is not opt-out. This is an opt-in. That’s an additional hurdle. They consented for their children to participate in this health curriculum and specifically, human sexuality. Their children did not receive it and they have not been notified, she said.


   Sinclair further explained that FWISD continued to delay the progress of approving HealthSmart. She claims the SHAC was informed that their initial recommendation was nullified because the SHAC needed to be convened by the board, needed to add new members, needed to conduct a new vote, and have two public meetings before the curriculum could advance in compliance with Texas State law. 

Human Sexuality Instruction Requirements, “FAQ on the SHAC and the Adoption of Instructional Materials”, Texas Association of School Boards,Inc. 2022. FAQ on the SHAC and the Adoption of Instructional Materials May 2022 (tasb.org).

  On December 13, SHAC was supposed to be convened by the board, but the agenda item was mistitled as a resolution vote approving school safety measures. Because of the mistake, the action was rescinded in early January and SHAC was not able to continue with the reviewing process. 


   Given the series of avoidable delays and this error, Sinclair described her mounting frustration throughout this process. “The barriers are not coming from people around that table. They’re coming from administration. They’re coming from a systemic desire to not provide sex education to Fort Worth ISD students.” Sinclair said.


   “I did not sign up to battle, a system level ideology that is creating such a barrier to thousands of  FWISD students,” she continued.




     Despite being featured several times on the board’s agenda, the HealthSmart Human Sexuality Curriculum was never released for public inspection. Under Texas Education Code, SHAC is required to hold two public meetings for community input and the minutes and audio/video must be posted to the district’s website. Two meetings were held for the public on September 6 and 7 of 2022, but according to FWISD’s website the minutes and recordings are unavailable because no one attended either meeting. Additionally, the agendas of the meetings were not made publicly available until January 26th. 


    On January 4th, SHAC held another meeting for the community. However, the complete curriculum was not available for review by attendees. Instead, only the basic aspects of the 6th grade and high school curriculum were shared. In order to access the copyright-protected curriculum, attendees have to file an open records request with the district and schedule a meeting with legal services for private viewing. 


“Aspects of Sexuality Student Powerpoint Slides.” FWISD. Jan. 2023: slide 14. https://drive.google.com/file/d/11WNz 0j4r9RDYqs5T0i2weIu8YmZsWo3/view.


   In regards to the issue of transparency at these meetings, Sinclair asserted that “the SHAC does not have any realm or hand in, you know, dictating who sees the curriculum and who doesn’t.”  And, “it’s been Fort Worth ISD that has really restricted.” 


   She told the Pantherette that FWISD has made it increasingly difficult for her to address parental concerns with the unknown curriculum. “ I had a curriculum review meeting canceled at my children’s elementary school with a group of parents. Everybody wanted to see the curriculum, this was set up and it was canceled about two hours prior and that came from the FWISD administration.”


    On January 24th, FWISD board meeting was flooded with community members and parents raising concern about the sex education curriculum, HealthSmart, being adapted. The controversy surrounding the HealthSmart concerned the inclusion of “human sexuality” content and FWISD’s lack of transparency regarding the course. 


    Parents at the board meeting warned against potential implications of teaching material featuring “inclusive language” such as “A Body with a Vagina” and “A Body with a Penis” instead of girl and boy. Opponents of the curriculum expressed that they believed the ambiguous interpretation of gender advances a dangerous and scientifically inaccurate message about human anatomy; some claiming that the course affirms body dysphoria in children which may lead to the pursuit of altering treatments like hormone blockers, testosterone supplements, and reassignment surgery.


The Abstinence and Puberty Units from 6th grade “Consent to Human Sexuality Instruction”, 2023,FWISD.org,https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bRqEx92jPg8OvPRaMjkdgQF7UnerVdUz/view.



  Due to parent outcry at school board meetings, FWISD Superintendent Dr. Ramsey announced the board’s decision to pause sex education curriculum for the 2022-2023 school year. 

January 27th, 2023 Friday message:


   “School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) Committee and Human Sexuality Curriculum Update The (School Health Advisory Council) SHAC Committee will begin reviewing different options for the Human Sexuality Curriculum once the Board of Trustees convenes them to begin the process. There is not an approved, adopted or recommended Human Sexuality Curriculum for the 2022-2023 school year. The delay will suspend the instructional delivery of the sexual education unit for the 2022-2023 school year.”


   Critics seized upon the failure to use the purchased curriculum as a waste of 2.6 million in tax dollars. The number has become a rallying cry for critics of the district. According to Roina Baquera, co-chair of SHAC and director of health and physical education at Fort Worth ISD, this is not an accurate representation.  The $2.6 million reflects the cost of the entire health curriculum, whereas the human sexuality portion is a fraction of that expenditure, representing only one segment of instruction.  Regardless of whether the HealthSmart sexuality instruction is used in the future, the rest of the curriculum can still be used Baquera said.


   “The district adopted a K-12 Health Education curriculum over an 8-yr period from 2022-2030 at a total cost of 2.6 million.  There is not a loss as the district still continues utilizing the health education curriculum; it is the only the human sexuality curriculum resources that are not being utilized at this time.”


    It is expected that opt-in sex education instruction will resume for rising 6th graders and high schoolers, according to Baquera. However, the future of sex education in FWISD is uncertain as Texas law does not mandate sex education in health curriculums. Sinclair disagrees with her colleague about the certitude of sex education for future generations of Fort Worth’s children. “I could see sex ed going away permanently” Sinclair said. “And if you look at our STD rates, or pregnancy rates and dating violence. It’s hard to understand if Fort Worth ISD or the state of Texas actually cares about the children.”

Ivy Holloway, reporter, contributed to this story.