Conservative activist plans to challenge Hillsborough Co. sex education, pushes for abstinence-only curricula

Terry Kemple
The current curriculum is being tested in five high schools.

Conservative activist Terry Kemple will challenge a new sex education policy Hillsborough County is currently testing in its schools, he announced Friday during a panel discussion at Tampa Tiger Bay.

Kemple is the founder and president of the Community Issues Council that promotes “Judeo-Christian values by educating and uniting the Church to be able to engage our community in the issues of the day.”

Kemple opposes sexual education in schools that includes alternatives to abstinence or information that is inclusive to the LGBTQ community.

“This is the resource guide that’s supposed to be inclusive to everyone except whose values don’t include acknowledging LGBTQ individuals,” Kemple said.

He noted in his remarks that some people do not believe transgender students should be recognized as part of sex education and quipped about how if a boy says he identifies as a girl he can be allowed to use the girls’ locker room.

“If the football team would have hard that when we were kids we would have all said we were girls,” Kemple said.

At issue is a ninth grade sexual education curriculum Hillsborough County Schools is testing in five high schools. The curriculum was established in consultation with about 100 community stakeholders including Kemple, students, teachers, parents and medical professionals.

The curriculum is based on various state and nationally approved lessons and was assembled, in part, to address issues identified in a student survey that asked not only questions about sexual activity, behavior and knowledge, but also things about how kids drive, communicate and learn. The idea was to establish a sex education curriculum that addressed not only the health and social aspects of sexual health, but also helped students establish other healthy habits ranging from communication to everyday behavior.

But Kemple said the curriculum violates the district’s own policies on establishing curricula.

“The school board policy regarding curriculum says specifically, the health education curriculum materials shall at all times reflect current theory, knowledge and practice and be evidence based and proven effective,” Kemple said. “This is a new curriculum that has never been tried. Even if you piece together tested parts, they’ve never been tested as a whole. It is not proven effective.”

A spokesperson for the school district declined to comment specifically on Kemple’s claim, but pointed to the curriculum itself noting that all of its parts have been approved.

Another speaker at the Tiger Bay event, Linsey Grove, rejected all of Kemple’s claims on sex education. Grove is a visiting instructor in health sciences at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Grove fired back at Kemple implying that he lacks the qualifications to weigh in on what should or should not be included in curriculum.

“I have a doctorate in public health and my research background is in sex education curriculum and I’ve been a sex educator for over ten years and I see the research body growing and really reflecting that we really do a disservice to our kids when we don’t give them the entire spectrum of information and knowledge they need to make good choices.,” Grove said. “I actually don’t think they’re violating their policy at all because when you look at our national standards for sexuality education it actually meets those standards, which are the best practices for providing sex education in the United States.”

The curriculum is already being taught in five Hillsborough County schools. Another curriculum for eighth grade students is still being tested and will be implemented in eight middle schools beginning in the Spring.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Joann B.

    November 19, 2019 at 10:40 am

    So-called “comprehensive” sex ed programs are not comprehensive. They only give two reasons to wait, when there are many more. The CDC calls teen sex a risk behavior for a reason…risk behaviors cluster, meaning when a teen crossed over one of these risk behaviors, they are at a heightened risk to cross over another. (Sex and alcohol are an obvious example) Teens need to know ALL the reasons why it’s in their best interest to wait to help them avoid all risks.

    Also, CSE programs teach students exaggerated contraceptive effectiveness rates, not telling them that teens have the highest failure rates. Teens should be told the rates that accurately pertain to them, not married 30+ year olds.

    CSE programs are taught in 80+% of the nation and we have, by far, the highest teen pregnancy and highest STD rates out of every developed nation in the world. California is the only state in the nation to never accept abst. ed funding and they are no where near having the lowest teen pregnancy or STD rates in the world. The recent HHS study confirmed this when they found that NONE of Pres. Obama’s teen pregnancy prevention programs significantly reduced risk behaviors, and some made things worse. The international Cochrane study had the same findings. While CSE proponents tout the lowering teen pregnancy rate as proof of their success, these studies point out that they very well could have been causing the high rates to begin with.

    But gee, let’s keep doing the same thing over and over and just hope for different results.

    CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS When considering programs in U.S. school settings, measured by credible standards of effectiveness, the claims that CSE has been proven effective and AE is ineffective were not supported by this combined database containing some of the strongest and most current outcome studies of U.S. sex education, as identified by three authoritative sources. The research evidence indicates that CSE has shown far more evidence of failure than success in U.S. school classrooms and has produced a concerning number of negative outcomes. The evidence for AE, though limited, looks more promising, enough to justify additional research. We recommend policymakers abandon plans for implementation of CSE in U.S. schools and pursue alternative strategies to reduce teen pregnancy and STDs.

    • Terri smith

      November 19, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Your article agrees with you, but is unfortunately a publication of a nonprofit with an agenda, and published through a disreputable “science” publication outlet. It is not a peer reviewed study.

  • Joneen Mackenzie RN

    November 19, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    I would love to chat with the author of this column, Janelle Taylor. I hope she can contact me for an interesting perspective on all this.

Comments are closed.


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