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Florida School District Overhauls Outdated Sexuality Education Policy

By Emer Valdez, SIECUS Intern

The Broward County School District in southern Florida officially overhauled their abstinence-only policy on May 4, 2014 after a multi-year process. In a unanimous vote, the school board approved updating their existing policy to one that “ensures all students are receiving the same level of education as their counterparts in other parts of the country—sexual health education that truly works to help stem the tide of high HIV/AIDS cases in our community.”[1]

Parents, youth activists, and school board members have been pushing for a change for the past two years in Broward County, a community home to one of the highest number of HIV cases in the United States. Last year, school board member Robin Bartleman commented that “data shows missed opportunities, lives that could have been saved. I wholeheartedly support a comprehensive sex education curriculum. It’s time.”[2]

The district hadn’t updated its sexuality education policy for over 10 years, and in addition to stressing abstinence, it lacked current information on vaccines, contraception, and personal rights. One of the driving forces to update the sexuality education policy was the more than 17,000 people in Broward County diagnosed with HIV, with estimates of 60% of HIV positive young people unaware of their status.[3]

The school district plans on implementing a comprehensive sexuality education program to reduce HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy in the community. The selected curricula will build awareness, reduce sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancy, and will address topics “from abstinence to HPV vaccines, dating violence, sex abuse prevention, sexting and social media” for grades five through twelve.[4] Additionally, anatomy and personal safety will be taught to elementary school students.[5]

Parents will be able to review any new curricula and would be able to opt their children out of the sexual health education instruction. The new policy will roll out in the Broward County School District in the fall of 2014.[6]

[1]CBS Miami, ”Broward School Board Approves Sex Ed Overhaul” CBS Miami, May 6, 2014, accessed May 8, 2014,

[2]Karen Yi, “Broward Schools To Change Sex Ed Over High HIV/AIDS Rates”, Huffington Post Miami, November 13, 2013, accessed May 8, 2014,


[4]CBS Miami, ”Broward School Board Approves Sex Ed Overhaul” CBS Miami, May 6, 2014, accessed May 8, 2014,

[5]Chris Joseph, “Broward School Board Voting on Updated Sex Ed Curriculum”, New Times Palm Beach, May 6, 2014, accessed May 8, 2014,

[6]SIECUS, “Florida School District Plans to Update Sexuality Education Program”, November 2013, accessed May 8, 2014, http://www.siecus.local/index.cfm?fuseaction=Feature.showFeature&featureid=2314&pageid=483&parentid=478.