Legislators hope new law brings transparency to sex ed curriculum

Tyler parents seeking more information about their child’s sex education curriculum at school now have more access under new state laws designed to make the material selection process more transparent.

House Bill 1525, which was added to the school finance bill during the last legislative session, tasks the school’s Student Health Advisory Council with recommending policies on the sex ed curriculum and the process for adopting materials.

Those recommendations are submitted to the full board of trustees for a final vote.

The SHAC consists of volunteer groups of parents, community members and school staff and is responsible for “ensuring the community values are reflected in health education.”

How is this done? Dr. Christy Hanson, the assistant superintendent for academic supports at Tyler Independent School District, explains:

HB 1525, adopted in June, includes major changes to sex education in Texas schools including:

·      Requiring permission from parents or guardians actively opting children into sex education. Previously, the state used the opt-out selection.

·      Notice of all SHAC meetings must be posted 72 hours in advance.

·      Meetings must be recorded either by audio or video

·      Meeting minutes must be posted on the school’s website

·      Must conduct at least two public meetings

·      Must post adopted sex ed materials online or make available for in-person inspection

·      More intensive parent notification of the content of the district’s human sexuality instruction.

Hanson said she believes the district does a “great job” in sending out text messages, letters and sponsoring parent meetings to ensure parents are informed.

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Vanessa E. Curry is a journalist with nearly 35 years of experience as a writer, editor and instructor. She earned a B.S. degree in Mass Communication from Illinois State University and a MSIS degree from The University of Texas at Tyler with emphasis on journalism, political science and criminal justice. She has worked newspaper in Marlin, Henderson, Tyler and Jacksonville, Texas as well as in Columbia Tennessee. Vanessa also was a journalism instructor at the UT-Tyler and Tennessee Tech University. Her writing has been recognized by the State Bar of Texas, Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, Dallas Press Club, and Tennessee Press Association. She currently is working on publishing two books: "Lies and Consequences: The Trials of Kerry Max Cook," and "A Gold Medal Man, A biography of Kenneth L. "Tug" Wilson.