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Education Reporter

School District Slapped for Sex Education Program

Paul and Jodi Hoffman
Paul & Jodi Hoffman
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - In 1997, Jodi Hoffman, a mother of three students in the Broward County public schools, discovered that her children were learning what she called "inappropriate, inaccurate, unfair and biased" information about human sexuality. She especially objected to sex instruction that included condoms, abortion, and cross-dressing - concepts that she felt had no place in the public schools (see Education Reporter, Feb. 1999). Mrs. Hoffman filed suit on behalf of herself and her children, and a settlement was reached in December.

The lawsuit identified four main problems with the Broward County public school district - the 5th largest in the nation. It alleged that the district: (1) Promoted abortion using a lesson from an interactive laser disc (produced by ABC) entitled "Understanding Ourselves: Teenage Sexuality;" (2) Directed children to the sports pages and classified sections of the Miami Herald, where explicit advertisements for sexual activities and nude strip clubs are located; (3) Failed to promote abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage; and (4) Failed to adhere to curriculum content guidelines.

When attempts to obtain redress in state court proved fruitless, Mrs. Hoffman added federal claims for violation of her constitutional rights, and the case was removed to U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach. After four amended complaints were filed, the Broward County School Board offered to settle.

The school board agreed to discontinue using sections of the laser disc curriculum dealing with abortion, to curtail student exposure to newspaper ads promoting sexual material, and to require that sex education programs stress abstinence and heterosexual marriage as "the expected standard for all school age children."

While not completely satisfied with the outcome of their suit, the Hoffmans believe they have accomplished several worthwhile goals. The curriculum that promoted, condoned, and even facilitated abortion was deleted from Broward County's sex education program, and the school district acknowledged the importance of monogamous heterosexual marriage as the expected norm.

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