After a year of debate and testimony, the Texas State Board of Education voted Wednesday to move forward new minimum standards for sex education in the state, approving them largely along party lines, according to the Texas Tribune.
The Republican-dominated board will take a final vote Friday.
The new standards will include discussion of birth control beyond abstinence — a change from the current system, which only allows that information to be included at the high-school level. Despite the recommendations of health experts, however, the changes don't include discussions of consent or LGTBQ+ issues.
Brownsville Democrat Ruben Cortez said he was frustrated the board shut down his efforts to include issues of bullying faced by LGBTQ+ students in the curriculum.
"We've heard the testimony. These students are out there," Cortez said, according to the Tribune report. "They've talked to us in September and they're asking us to hear their voices, and it seems like only a few of us are listening to what they're asking of us, but these are real experiences that our kids have."
While other states have moved to create more LGBTQ-inclusive public school curriculums, Texas' Republican leaders continue to push back at protections for gay and transgender people.
A state regulatory board last month voted to follow a recommendation from the office of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and allow social workers refuse to help LGBTQ+ clients. After public outcry, though, it reversed the vote.
What's more, Texas is one of six states with laws banning the teaching of LGBTQ+ history in public schools.
“LGBTQ students, just like everyone else, deserve to learn in settings where they feel respected and safe,” Texas Freedom Network President Val Benavidez said in a statement addressing the board's curriculum changes. “It’s hard for board members to say they support that if they refuse to adopt standards that simply acknowledge LGBTQ people even exist.”
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