With Sex Ed removed from HIP, RE contemplates next steps


Lily Landman '23

Scarlett Sable ’24 and Natasha do Valle ’23 lead a HIP module

At what point in their time at RE do current students receive sex education? Right now, the answer is: never. “I know we do CPR in the swimming unit of PE, but I don’t know if that’s sex education,” said one freshman. 

In previous school years, Ransom Everglades students received sex education through HIP. Last year, however, it was eliminated abruptly from the HIP curriculum due to Governor Ron DeSantis’s Florida Parental Rights in Education Act (often labeled by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay Law”). Since RE students are no longer receiving sex education, the faculty is working on the question of how to re-integrate it into the curriculum.   

In its most basic form, sex education involves teaching topics that have to do with sex and sexuality, including human development, sexual behavior and sexual health. But it also helps students navigate through their relationships, teaching them about consent and how to set healthy boundaries. “It’s important because students need to discuss and talk about these topics in order to send them in the right direction,” said Dean of the Freshman Class Mrs. Karen Thompson.

I know we do CPR in the swimming unit of PE, but I don’t know if that’s sex education

— A freshmen at RE

Before HIP, RE had its own sex education curriculum. According to Mrs. Thompson, “before HIP, PE was four days a week, and there was one day of health class taught by a trained professional.” The sex education course was required for all of the freshmen. 

In the HIP program that replaced that curriculum, students would learn about sex through a specific module, or lesson unit, that covered various topics. Mr. Adatto, HIP’s previous faculty sponsor, said that the sex education module was one of the most important modules of HIP. “When we asked the freshmen about highlights from the program, many mentioned the importance of the sex education component,” he said.  

Christian Sosa ’23, who was on the HIP board and taught the sex education module before it was removed, said that “the sex ed was straightforward. It didn’t go into excessive detail, but it addressed what people needed to know.” 

Anabelle Echevarria ’23 remembered that “they made us play an STD game where we would line up with pencils. The person behind you would pass down all the pencils of the people behind them. This activity was to demonstrate that when you choose to have unprotected sex with someone, you are inheriting the risk of catching a disease from any of that person’s sexual partners.” 

According to CavsConnect, the student newspaper of Coral Gables High School, HIP decided to remove the sex education module because, in the wake of the Parental Rights in Education Act, “parents question[ed] if HIP was allowed to present sexual content to students without their permission.” The original law prohibited any programs that include conversations about gender identity or sexual orientation from kindergarten through third grade; on April 19, Florida education officials voted to expand the law to twelfth grade. It also includes provisions specifically targeting sex education. The law requires that classes teach that “sex is determined by biology and reproductive function at birth” and define reproductive gender roles as “binary, stable, and unchangeable.” It also effectively bans mandatory sex education programs by allowing parents to ‘opt out’ of them at any age. Since HIP, which operates in public schools as well as RE, would have had to obtain permission from each individual parent, the organization decided to remove the sex education portion of their curriculum.  

With the HIP module gone, it is clear that the RE community wants more. Ms. Karen Key, the faculty sponsor of HIP, said that “we should have a regular 9th grade health class that takes place during the PE rotations.” She explained that the freshmen have been asking for more information during HIP. Stella Newman ’26 said that she “definitely think[s] freshmen should learn more about sex education, especially as we get older.”   

Coach Scott Berman, RE’s Upper School Athletics Director, agreed that sex-education is missing at RE. “It’s important and valuable. It definitely should be implemented into our education,” he said. Although he thinks it should be taught, however, he is not quite sure if it would fit into the PE rotations. “It’s a question that we would have to bring up to our PE staff and to the people in charge of our curriculum. PE down here is so unique, so I’m not sure where it would fit,” he said. 

In Mrs. Thompson’s view, there should be a program starting in middle school, led by “an adult who is trained, knows the information, and is comfortable answering any questions.” The education should build up from middle school to high school. She also believes that the most effective way of teaching this information is through creating small groups, because “the smaller a group, the more they tend to pay attention.” Lastly, she said that this course should not be co-ed because “students might feel more comfortable and open.”  

The discussion over what will occur in the future is just beginning, but Mrs. Thompson is adamant. “We need more,” she said.