JASMYN calls for support ahead of DCPS vote on inclusion of sex education materials

In September, DCPS made the decision to ‘start from scratch’ in creating lessons about sex education and reproductive health for students.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An LGBTQ+ advocacy group in Jacksonville is calling on the community to attend the Duval County School Board meeting Tuesday ahead of a vote on the inclusion of sex education materials in their curriculum.

In Florida, public schools are now required to get public input on sex-education curricula every year under a 2021 state law, according to Jax Today. The proposed new books would replace school sex-ed curricula that the district has used for years. 

In September, DCPS made the decision to ‘start from scratch’ in creating lessons about sex education and reproductive health for students.

“Starting from scratch and adhering to the boundaries of Florida Statute will be a far easier task than trying modify or find existing publisher materials that may or may not meet Florida’s standards,” Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene previously said.   

The Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN) made a plea on Facebook for supporters of its mission to attend Tuesday’s meeting to ensure “Duval County provides a safe and inclusive environment for ALL students.”

JASMYN is asking attendees to share a personal JASMYN story of support or impact and tells supporters to “let the School Board know you want the Essential Voices Collection back on the shelves.”

The Essential Voices collection features characters representing a variety of ethnicities, religious affiliations and gender identities.

This comes a week after DCPS ended their partnership with JASMYN after more than two decades.

DCPS Superintendent Diana Greene said the district terminated its agreement with JASMYN because of “inappropriate” program materials. Greene said that this decision does not “impair” the district’s commitment to LBGTQ+ students and faculty. 

In an email written to JASMYN, which Greene shared with First Coast News, Greene says the organization used inappropriate games during an event at its Five Points location.

She attached a link to an article written by the Florida Standard, a news website which boasts a goal of “right-sizing” the Florida media, which they say is overwhelmingly “center-left.” JASMYN called the publication a “far right extremist website.” 

The article describes a card game seen in a photo on JASMYN’s Instagram, which showed images of different penis and scrotum types. JASMYN says the game was part of it’s HIV prevention work.

The post was later deleted. 

“Schools have a lot of resources, but they’re not always easy to access for students, and in particular, LGBTQ students don’t always feel safe,” said JASMYN CEO Cindy Watson.

For more than two decades, JASMYN has worked with Duval County Schools to bridge that gap, and the district has paid JASMYN $45,000 in grant money for the past nine years to work with its Gender and Sexualities Alliances and inclusiveness training.

Watson clarified the game was never used in schools or with anyone under the age of 18.

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