I have been a parent for 24
years and an advocate for the same number of years; my children’s
advocate. I realized a long time ago no one else was going to look out
for my children the way I can and must. Two of my kids have grown up
and successfully moved into adulthood. My youngest, and my only daughter
is 13 and fighting the uphill battle that is middle school.
Recently she came home from her public
school with a pamphlet she wanted me to sign for extra credit points
in her health class. Being the person I am, I read the pamphlet and
then I read the worksheets she had worked on in health that day. Then
she and I had a very lengthy discussion.
The topic for the day? Sex
To be honest I didn’t sleep
that night. I stayed up on my computer researching the program her school
district currently uses. And what I found made my jaw drop, my heart
race, and my head pound!
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Now I realize that on the surface
most would wonder where my outrage was coming from, these sound like
benign organizations, right? Wrong! Both organizations have an agenda
and that isn’t to arm students with facts regarding sex education but
rather push a particular moral code of conduct; one that aligns with
the conservative Christian church.
Heritage Community Services
is a South Carolina organization that partners with others such as the National Abstinence
(NAEA) and their Parents
for Truth project.
The NAEA is a lobbying organization that has lobbied hard for abstinence-only-until-marriage
programs in public schools. Some people may have heard that Ohio
stopped receiving money for abstinence-only programs, but that’s only
partly true. Even though some of the money has stopped, in Fiscal
Year 2008, community organizations in Ohio still received more than
$6.3 million for abstinence-only programs according to the Sexuality
Information and Education Council of the United States’ Ohio Profile.
So, after finding out that
Pregnancy Care of Cincinnati ministries utilizes Heritage Community
Services’ Heritage Keepers program, I found out just what was
being taught. The core of the program is to scare the kids into believing
that if they have sex before marriage, not only is it not going to be
very satisfying but they will also either end up with an unplanned pregnancy,
a STI, or have their heart broken and suffer emotional damage. The program
compares sex to fire, relaying the message that every time you engage
in sex out of marriage you will get burned. There is no instruction
regarding birth control and in fact the use of condoms is down played.
According to the instructor in my daughter’s class, condoms have holes
and can tear easier than contact lenses. The curriculum also tells
students that condoms do not provide protection (even if used correctly)
from herpes or HPV and slip off so often they are "just too risky."
Students are taught that if they wait to have sex until marriage they
will not have to ever worry about such horrible things like unplanned
pregnancy or STIs or even a broken heart, and they will be emotionally
and financially prepared; who’s kidding who here?
I could go on and on about
the negative affects this program can, and I’m sure does, have on
the minds of many of the students. Imagine being the kid in the class
with two same-sex parents. Their parents can’t marry in most states,
what kind of shame could this student end up feeling thanks to this
kind of instruction? Whether you agree or disagree with the parents’
lifestyle, their child should never be put in that position!
My daughter said if she hadn’t
had such open communication with me regarding sex she could very well
have come home with a dim view of me because I was pregnant before I
married and lived with her father (and have no regrets). Her comments
made me wonder how many kids out there having this curriculum flung
at them feel shame over their parent’s decisions and what kind of
conflict that could create between kids and their parents.
So, after many hours of research,
19 phone calls to the organizations (or should I say ministries), 11
phone calls to school officials, and an almost two hour phone conversation
initiated by the school’s superintendent; I have been invited to meet
with the school district’s curriculum board (an invitation from the
superintendent). I have to wonder if the intent here is to keep me from
speaking publically and presenting an issue that the district doesn’t
want to deal with. I don’t know if they remember the district does
have open, public school board meetings but I remember and I’ll be
there asking questions and initiating discussion that must move forward
to action. It is necessary for all of us to speak up and demand that
our kids are taught the facts and nothing but the facts.