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 education.
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!
Pregnancy Care of Cincinnati Ministries presents the program. This program utilizes worksheets, games, videos, and training from another organization; Heritage Community Services.
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 Education Association (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.