Florida school board to teach AIDS, sex to fourth-graders

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A pastor upset about a new AIDS curriculum for fourth-grade students in the St. Lucie County School District, is leading protests in front of the home of one of the trustees.

Pastor Bryan Longworth is also vowing to distribute fliers featuring quotes from the curriculum alongside photos  of the four board members who approved the "Get Real About AIDS" curriculum.

The board voted 4-1 Dec. 12 to approve the curriculum, which also includes instructional materials to other grade levels.

"I was appalled to learn that 9- and 10-year-olds will be exposed to sexual content," Longworth, the associate pastor of Covenant Tabernacle World Outreach Center, said in a news release. "In teaching this to fourth-graders, the school board will rob children of their childhood. I have not met one person who is in favor of teaching sexual content to fourth-graders. Even some supporters of this curriculum think this goes too far."

During the school board meeting, Longworth, one of five citizens who reviewed the curriculum, read an excerpt before the trustees.

"Read students the following statement of fact: 'The AIDS virus is transmitted only through blood, semen, and vaginal fluids; people most commonly contract the virus by using needles contaminated with the blood of someone who's infected or by having sexual intercourse with someone who's infected.' Ask if anyone was surprised by the facts."

It was not enough to sway Kathryn Hensley, Carol Hilson, John Carvelli and Judi Miller. Board member Troy Ingersol was the sole dissenting vote.

The curriculum, a 14-session program, was recommended by Planned Parenthood.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Longworth targeted Hensley by protesting outside her home because in her role as a member of the Children's Services Council, she voted to give $500,000 to Planned Parenthood.

"We're going to let the community know which board members voted to teach sexual content to fourth-graders," the pastor said. "The community can then decide whether the board members are fit to make decisions about their children's future.""

Hensley told the newspapers that the protesting was "threatening," but that it would not change her mind.

In addition to the home-front protesting, Youth for America, a group co-founded by Longworth, gathered more than 3,750 petitions in opposition to the curriculum.