Former Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes said that a school district in Texas is requiring "teaching kids how to have anal sex," after the Austin school district board voted to adopt new sex education curriculum for elementary and middle school students.
In an Oct. 29 post on his website,
Starnes described the new curriculum and relied on information from Texas Values, a conservative organization that opposed the new instruction materials.
"In spite of overwhelming opposition from parents and pastors, the district’s trustees voted early Tuesday morning to implement a pornographic sex education policy that includes instruction on anal sex and how to place a condom on an erect penis," he wrote.
This is a largely inaccurate description of the new curriculum. The lessons include instructions on condom use, but they do not include detailed information on anal sex or any pornographic materials.
Starnes did not return a request for comment.
Reviewing the new curriculum
The Austin school board approved new sex education curriculum for elementary and middle school students at the end of October.
The curriculum includes instruction about sexual orientation, gender identity and sexually transmitted diseases for the first time in the district, starting as early as fifth grade. It also includes lessons about healthy relationships, puberty and reproduction, according to the American-Statesman
Any student in the district can be exempted from participating in some or all of the lessons that fall under the umbrella of "Human Sexuality and Responsibility Curriculum" at the request of a parent or guardian, according to the school district’s policy
The school board voted unanimously to approve the new curriculum, despite resistance from some conservative organizations, including Texas Values. The board heard public feedback on the issue before voting, and roughly 69% of those who spoke disapproved of the changes, according to the American-Statesman
Is new curriculum ‘pornographic’?
All of the instructional materials and student handouts for the human sexuality curriculum for third through fifth grades and sixth through eighth grades are available on the school district’s website.
Instruction materials for third through fifth grades include anatomical drawings
depicting the internal anatomy of both the male and female reproductive systems. Materials for sixth through eighth grade include drawings of internal and external anatomy for both reproductive systems.
Pornography is defined by Merriam-Webster
as "the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement." Medical images and educational materials are generally not considered pornography.
Megan Maas, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Michigan State University, reviewed the new curriculum at the request of PolitiFact Texas and said that it "clearly does not meet the definition of pornography."
"It seems comprehensive enough to give students the language they need to enforce the decisions they want to make around sexual behavior," she said in an email. "Even maintaining abstinence requires comprehensive education so that they have the language and skills to refuse some kinds of sexual behavior (e.g. oral sex), but engage in others (e.g. holding hands)."
Most importantly: Texas law
prohibits the distribution or display of "harmful materials" to minors — including pornography.
Does curriculum include instruction on anal sex, condom placement?
The bulk of the sex education lessons for both third through fifth graders and sixth through eighth graders focuses on personal identity and safety as well as identifying and maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends and romantic partners.
There are also lessons on anatomy, puberty and the reproductive system, as well as abstinence, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Austin is considered an "abstinence-plus" district, meaning that lessons encourage abstinence but also discuss other methods of preventing pregnancy and diseases.
In addition to lessons on abstinence in the new materials, there are also lessons about other contraceptive methods, but those are limited to sixth through eighth grade instruction.
Starnes also said that the new lessons include instruction on anal sex.
Anal sex is mentioned briefly in the curriculum on a list of commonly recognized types of sexual activity and separately as one of the possible vehicles for sexually transmitted diseases.
None of the materials include a detailed description of anal sex or instructions.
Starnes said that the Austin school board voted to mandate "a pornographic sex education policy that includes instruction on anal sex and how to place a condom on an erect penis."
First of all, parents are allowed to decide whether their children can participate in any sex education instruction offered in the school district. In other words: it is not mandatory.
Also, none of the materials included in the curriculum meet the definition of pornography.
The lesson plans include information about how to use a condom correctly, but they do not include detailed information or instruction about anal sex.
We rate this claim Mostly False.