- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2015

The Fairfax County School Board voted Thursday night to amend its family life curriculum to include education on sexual orientation and gender identity, despite objections from hundreds of parents.

The 10-2 vote came after the school board assured parents last month that adding gender identity to the school system’s nondiscrimination policy would not affect school curriculum.

The new class will be taught to students in grades 7 through 10.

Parents can remove their children from the class thanks to an amendment to include opt-out forms that will be mailed to parents.

The board turned down two other motions to table to vote for a later date in order to give the board more time to address parents’ concerns.

Opponents said the classes were part of a social agenda and claimed the school board did little to include parents in the discussion about the curriculum change.

“Tonight, I was disappointed to see the school board again failing to engage parents and not allowing a forum for community discussion on key policy decisions. Members of the community were forced to go to great lengths to be heard,” said Jeanette Hough, a parent who is running for the county school board this year.

“The school board owes parents clear communication, full engagement and due process on all important decisions. I’d like to see the board more consistently hold a dialogue with the community on significant issues,” Ms. Hough said.

Supporters of the vote said the new classes were a step in the right direction for LGBT rights.

In a statement published Thursday night, school board Chair Tamara Derenak Kaufax stressed the school board did not shift other family life education classes under the required health curriculum as was originally planned, leaving parents the option to take their children out of sex education classes as well.

“It is important to note that all [family life education]-designated lessons will continue to have the opt-out provision. Our parents’ role in determining if their child will receive FLE lessons has not changed. We respect parents’ rights to make the choices they believe are in the best interest of their families,” Ms. Kaufax said.

“We very much appreciate the feedback received regarding the proposed FLE curriculum and believe this compromise benefits all FCPS’ families,” Ms. Kaufax said.

Fairfax County has the largest school district in Virginia and the 10th largest in the nation.

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