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Pasco school district backpedals on sex education changes

Superintendent Kurt Browning says some of the lessons in the recommended curriculum are not acceptable.
A sign hangs outside a restroom at 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, N.C. The Pasco County, Fla., school district has had lengthy debates over transgender student rights, similar to those in North Carolina and other states.
A sign hangs outside a restroom at 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, N.C. The Pasco County, Fla., school district has had lengthy debates over transgender student rights, similar to those in North Carolina and other states.
Published Sep. 9, 2019

Specific lessons within the Rights Respect Responsibility 3R’s sex education curriculum specifically mentioned in the Pasco County School Board’s upcoming workshop packet have superintendent Kurt Browning making clear his opposition to the material included.

The district plans to update and revise its sex ed program, which hasn’t gotten a makeover in 15 years. But the workshop item should have been more straightforward in saying most of the state-approved material from Advocates for Youth will not be used in Pasco schools, Browning said.

“We are not teaching those lessons, except the one that is in there about effective use of condoms,” Browning said. “I don’t want those lessons taught in our schools. It goes beyond what I see as the bounds” of appropriate content.

He noted as one example the chapter called “I Am What I Am,” a series of lessons relating to gender identity. In it, the instructions note that the curriculum veers toward gender neutral pronouns, to make the curriculum “inclusive of all genders and gender identities.”

It says it will refer to “someone with a vulva,” as opposed to using the terms girls and women, for instance.

Browning said it is important for students to learn how boys’ and girls’ anatomies work, what causes pregnancy and other aspects of sex education. However, he said, he would not allow for other lessons such as “I Am What I Am.”

He was not alone.

School Board chairwoman Alison Crumbley was also strongly opposed to the lesson, which she and others had pointed out to them by astute community members in the time leading to Tuesday’s workshop.

“I am not for taking away pronouns,” Crumbley said.

She and other board members have stood steadfastly behind preserving the rights of transgender students, in the face of loud demands from residents and others who want the district to adopt a policy recognizing children by the gender listed on their birth certificates.

But altering the sex education curriculum could become the step too far for the board.

Browning said his administration has not approved the 3R’s model, and the workshop packet should have been more clear. He expected to more fully explain the district’s initiative at the workshop, which begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday.


  1. More than 100 people turned out Jan. 15, 2019, to give the Pasco County School Board their thoughts on the district's policy and procedures for transgender student rights. Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK]
  2. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  3. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ  |  Times]
  4. Teacher Dequita Parker guides youngsters to lunch from the playground Sept. 20 at the PromiseLand Early Childhood Education Center in Tampa.
  5. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  6. Sen. Audrey Gibson, leader of the Florida Senate Democrats, introduces a bill in January to refocus the $900 million proposed for teacher pay into salaries for all public school employees. It's just one of many ideas still floating around Tallahassee relating to educator raises. [The Florida Channel]
  7. A small group of students were rushed inside a bus at dismissal at AMIKids on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 in Pinellas Park.  [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  8. School employees Jarvis Delon West, left, and Dontae Antonio Thomas, right, were both arrested in connection with the assault and injury of a 12-year-old boy who attended AMIkids in Pinellas Park. The state shut the school down. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  9. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  10. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus. [MIKE STOCKER  |  AP]
  11. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  12. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms. [The Florida Channel]