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Sex education lessons attract conservative criticism in Florida schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The Hillsborough County School Board decided to retain its sex education curriculum despite a push to remove portions providing detailed descriptions. [Shutterstock]
The Hillsborough County School Board decided to retain its sex education curriculum despite a push to remove portions providing detailed descriptions. [Shutterstock] [ SHUTTERSTOCK ]
Published Sep. 21

The big story: Sex education has become one of the focal points in Florida’s ongoing public school culture wars.

Conservative activists around the state have pressured school boards to scale back their lessons about sex, pointing to what they consider materials that are age inappropriate or, in some cases, pornographic. They contend the right to opt out of the classes is not enough.

The Hillsborough County School Board was the latest to face such criticism, following similar efforts to derail the instruction in Miami-Dade and Duval counties. Hillsborough board members stood behind the curriculum after some lively conversation. Read more here.

Hot topics

Vouchers: About 5% of the Flagler County school district’s general fund budget is dedicated to supporting students who attend private schools, Flagler Live reports. • Leon County school district officials raised concerns about sending close to $16 million to private schools as vouchers, WCTV reports. • A nonprofit reported that Florida ‘re-routed’ $1.3 billion in taxpayer money to private schools this year, as vouchers have grown, the News Service of Florida reports. Officials from scholarship funding organizations took issue with the characterization of the funding.

Security: Lee County parents and teachers said they want schools to do more to make them feel safe, WINK reports.

Leadership: The Escambia County School Board decided not to discuss the possibility of removing superintendent Tim Smith over a question about the district’s student rights and responsibilities handbook, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Community outreach: Gadsden County school district officials plan to hold several outreach meetings to gather public input on how to improve the schools, WTXL reports.

Book challenges: The Duval County school district has become a hotspot for book banning efforts, WJXT reports. District officials claimed they have not banned books, but are reviewing several titles. • The Collier County School Board decided to make three challenged books available in high schools only, if students have parental permission, WFTX reports. They are ‘Sloppy Firsts,’ ‘Nineteen Minutes’ and ‘The Bluest Eye.’

Blue Ribbon schools: Two Florida schools were recognized by the federal government for their academic achievement, the Florida Times-Union reports.

In higher ed

The University of South Florida is diving headfirst into building an on-campus football stadium. Records suggest the cost could approach $350 million.

A suspended University of Central Florida instructor is criticizing the school. He claims the university has rampant corruption and institutional racism, Florida Politics reports.

Florida Atlantic University has a new interim leader. Stacy Volnick, the school’s chief operating officer, will lead the university during a search for a permanent new president, WPTV reports. The current president, John Kelly, is stepping down after eight years on the job.

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From the police blotter ... A Martin County school resource officer faces disciplinary action after accidentally firing his gun in a school, WFTL reports.

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