A new, opt-in sexual and reproductive health curriculum has been approved for Dallas ISD students in grades 6-12.

By a vote of 7-2, the DISD board of trustees approved health education recommendations from the district’s School Health Advisory Council on May 26. For sex education, students with parental consent will receive instruction based on materials from publisher McGraw Hill.

The McGraw Hill curriculum was not officially submitted to the Texas Education Agency to go through the official recommendation process, DISD Executive Director Michael Ruiz said.

However, he said the SHAC reviewed the McGraw Hill curriculum and found the material emphasized abstinence from sexual activity. Ruiz said TEA code mandates that abstinence must be presented as “the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity of unmarried persons of school age.”

“The wellness team went in and actually sorted through the curriculum and counted the amount of times abstinence or abstinent is mentioned, as well as other contraceptive methods,” Ruiz said. “Abstinence is the primary source.”

A number of other health and physical education materials were approved by the board. After-school programming for high school students in partnership with the North Texas Alliance to Reduce Pregnancy in Teens was also approved.

Trustees Joyce Foreman and Camile White cast the two votes against the new curriculum package. Foreman said she would have preferred a separate vote on the sexual education portion of the package. She also expressed concern over DISD adopting materials that are not officially recommended by the TEA.

“What I want to be clear about on my position is that we took a road that the TEA has not approved by McGraw Hill—that’s factual,” Foreman said. “My position still remains the same.”

Trustee Maxie Johnson was among other board members thanking SHAC members and district staff for approaching the topic of sexual education.

“This is a very difficult subject to talk about,” Johnson said. “We’ve heard a lot tonight, and I do believe that if we don’t ... educate our kids, as one of the speakers said, the streets will. That’s a concern for me, and we can do it responsibly.”