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National News

Co-ed sex ed classes prompt protests in Virginia

todayJuly 15, 2022

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(FAIRFAX, Va.) — Students in Virginia are calling on school administrators to combine genders in their Family Life Education, or sex education, courses.

Members of the Pride Liberation Project, a student-led LGBTQIA+ advocacy group in Fairfax County, protested on Thursday ahead of the Fairfax County School Board’s meeting.

The group’s leader, Rivka Vizcardo-Lichter, told ABC affiliate WLJA that the recent Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade galvanized students to protest.

Vizcardo-Lichter said a decision to create co-ed sex education courses would be a “step forward” for advancing the inclusivity of transgender and non-binary people in schools and in recognizing that “queer people need to learn about their sexual health in a safe way.”

“We’re not asking anyone to take on any crazy reforms,” Vizcardo-Lichter added.

Fairfax County schools currently hold sex education classes that separate students into two genders during the fourth through eighth grades.

The Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee issued a number of recommendations in May, including a mix in genders in sex education classes during grades four through eighth.

“The main criticism is that it makes students uncomfortable. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Why are students uncomfortable learning about their bodies?’ People who are afraid of FLE [family life education] have the option to opt their children out,” Willow Woycke, president of the Transgender Education Association, said at a May school board meeting in favor of the recommendations.

Nearby schools have implemented mostly gender-combined sex education, including Virginia’s Arlington County and Alexandria City, as well as Maryland’s Prince George’s County. Some Metro D.C. districts have also adopted the practice of combining genders in such courses.

Several other districts in the region continue to separate genders in sex education classes.

It’s not yet clear if the Fairfax County School Board will make a decision on changes to sex education classes.

“All advisory groups outline recommendations at the end of each school year,” Julie Moult, a spokesperson for the FCSB, told ABC News. “Some are acted on and some are not. The board may choose to review this recommendation at some point this coming school year.”

Kathleen Mallard, a Fairfax County resident, told ABC affiliate WLJA that a move to combine genders for students in grades four through eight would be wrong.

“Some of the discussions are about activities I think almost are sexualizing our children to some extent, up to the point of almost grooming them,” said Mallard. “I think this is not a good idea to have them both all in the same class, boys and girls.”

No changes came at Thursday’s board meeting but newly appointed superintendent Michelle Reid did acknowledge that new members would be appointed to the advisory committee.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Written by: ABC News

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