Roughly two dozen Austin ISD residents held pro-LGBTQIA signs and pride flags to show support of the district's work toward adopting a new sex education curriculum that they feel is more inclusive for students of all sexual orientations and beliefs.

Trustees unanimously approved the updated Human Sexuality & Responsibility curriculum's scope and sequence—an outline detailing in which grades certain sex education topics will be taught in the district. The curriculum had not been updated in 12 years.

AISD parent Lourdes Bautista was one of 10 residents who spoke Feb. 25 in support of the vote during public comment.

"A curriculum that informs about consent, identity, anatomy and physiology, puberty and adolescence, pregnancy and reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and safety is a curriculum that shows students that we honor and value their rights to information," Bautista said. "It educates the fact that people who identify as [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual] exist, that their lives are valuable and worthy of acknowledgment and that they deserve to feel not only welcome but safe. This education saves lives."

The approved plan allows parents who feel uncomfortable about sex education to opt students out of certain or all lessons in the curriculum. A full draft of the scope and sequence can be found here.

Lisa Goodnow, the district's executive director of academics & social and emotional learning, said specific lesson plans have not yet been selected. Lessons and teaching materials will be presented to the board for approval in June, she said. Materials will be available for parents to review after approval in campus libraries.

In a presentation to trustees Feb. 18, Goodnow said sex education that teaches proper terminology for anatomy and talks about healthy and appropriate relationships helps minimize the risk of sexual abuse toward children. Children are also more likely to report incidents when taught about healthy and inappropriate relationships, she said.

District 2 trustee Jayme Mathias said his district was the "teen pregnancy capital of the U.S." in 1995 and that the Dove Springs community still has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Travis County.

"I want to commend the work of the district and also the community for coming out and helping us as we fought through these changes and attempted to discern Austin values," he said Feb. 25. "The fact that we have created this, and a program that is opt-out, I am just very excited that we are tackling this issue and revising this and how this will help students in District 2."

During public comment, Caryl Ayala, who co-founded local group Concerned Parents of Texas, urged parents to “opt out” of a sexual education program that “is not about health" but "about indoctrination." Ayala was one of five who spoke against the districts action during public comment.

"Parents, if you believe the goals of sex ed are to prevent pregnancy and disease, you are being deceived," she said. "You must understand that this type of curricula is rooted in an ideology that you probably don't share. This ideology values above all—[including] health, science or parental authority—sexual freedom."

District 9 trustee Arati Singh said Feb. 18 that she is proud of the curriculum the district will be teaching because it reflects the district’s “no place for hate” and “all means all” philosophies.

“When I think about what an [LGBTQIA] child has to lose if we don’t pass this curriculum, they lose their dignity; they lose a sense of safety; they lose a sense of who they are,” she said.