The group called County Citizens Defending Freedom — whose objections to sex-ed materials persuaded the Miami-Dade school board to release a textbook this week — cites biblical principles in its mission statement, lists conservative and politically active Christian groups as partners, and invites activists to become “ambassadors of freedom”.
The Miami-Dade chapter, which formed in October, filed a 278-signature petition urging the district to remove the use of “comprehensive health skills.” The book, available in middle school and high school versions, covers topics ranging from nutrition and exercise to sexually transmitted diseases and gender identity. The group objected to terms such as “gender fluid” as well as lessons on emergency contraceptive pills and other issues they found offensive, including children seeking an adult from trust in bullying and other difficult situations.
Lobbyed the Polk County School Board to remove the books
County Citizens Defending Freedom has already successfully pressured the Polk County School Board in Central Florida to remove the books it says were “offensive” and undesirable”, according to a report by MediaMatters. As in Miami-Dade, the group submitted a petition to the district, claiming that parts of the book were not age-appropriate and contained “ideology” that the group found objectionable.
READ MORE: Sex ed textbook rejected by Miami school board after parents invoke ‘Don’t say gay’ bill
The group’s mission statement on its website states, “We believe in God, Country, Family and Freedom. We believe that America is the greatest country in human history because of the Judeo-Christian beliefs and value system upon which the Founding Fathers were influenced when they created the founding documents.
Miami parent behind campaign sends kids to Centner Academy
Among its referenced partners: Turning United States, freedom council, Patriot Academy, Liberty Pastors and other national groups with conservative political views that have been involved in promoting grassroots activism across the country. The website claims to have recruited 2,307 Freedom Ambassadors and won four legal battles in 24 months.
Alex Serrano, the Miami-Dade County group director who led the Miami-Dade playbook challenge, has no children in the public school system. He told reporters he was sending his children to Centner Academy, a private school in Miami with a controversial anti-vaccination agenda. Last year, the school said teachers and staff who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 could not interact with students and risk losing their jobs.
READ MORE: Private school Miami Centner Academy will not employ vaccinated teachers and staff
Serrano told the Herald on Thursday that the organization became involved when “attacks on freedom,” or anything that deviated from the nation’s founding documents, were purportedly identified in the documents. The group argues that the textbooks violated Florida’s new Parental Rights Act, even though that law applies to teaching about gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade, and no to college and high school classes.
“I am currently not a parent of MDCPS students, but I am a resident of the county and have filed an objection as an individual as the law provides that I am a party to the matter,” a- he declared.
READ FOR YOURSELF: This report details objections to Miami-Dade’s sex ed textbook
Although the group was successful in convincing the board to withdraw the manual, it overcame the objections of all but a few of the 40 speakers at the school board meeting that lasted several hours on Wednesday evening. Proponents of the material urged the district to continue using the book, saying it covered important health issues for young people and that a small group shouldn’t dictate decisions for a massive school system.
Maxx Fenning, president of PRISM Florida, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit that provides access to LGBTQ-inclusive education and sexual health resources for youth, told the board that comprehensive sex education ” save lives”.
Citing statistics such as “young people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for 25% of all new HIV infections in the United States,” he said that comprehensive sex education gives young people “the tools they need. need to protect themselves if they decide to have sex”. asset.”
“Council members who voted no simply gave the governor more ammunition in public school funding,” said Janielle Murphy, a board member of PS 305, a Miami nonprofit representing a diverse group of families on local educational issues. “Instead of the small percentage of parents being able to opt out of the program, as permitted (by the state), they opted out of the entire district.”
This story was originally published July 22, 2022 1:01 p.m.