While going through my email this morning, I found the following piece:
OPINION Washington Times Opinion Piece Criticizes Comprehensive Sex Ed Curricula[Aug. 10, 2009]
Sex education programs in U.S. public schools are "dominated by" the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Advocates for Youth and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Rebecca Hagelin, a family advocate and author, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece. According to Hagelin, these groups' materials "promote a radical political agenda, are highly pornographic, encourage our children to be sexually active and are largely devoid of biological and medical information." She recommends that parents read Miriam Grossman's new book -- titled "You're Teaching My Child What?" -- to "fully grasp the problem."
Hagelin continues that the first step parents should take to prevent their children "from falling victim to radical liberal ideology is to become familiar with the materials used in your school." Parents should request to review all materials used in the classroom and opt out of sex education classes for their children, according to Hagelin. "Your children deserve to know about the dangers of being sexually active outside of marriage, and the truth that sexual relations within the bonds of marriage are beautiful, safe and incredibly fulfilling," Hagelin writes. She concludes by recommending that parents visit the Web site of the Abstinence Clearinghouse for "practical, proven ways to help your teens practice abstinence" (Hagelin, Washington Times, 8/10).
What makes it difficult for me to respond to such an opinion piece is that there's not enough substance to contradict with scientific and honest information. And even if it did, would it be worth my time and effort?
I've been hearing a lot about the book, "You're Teaching My Child What?" It sounds like the opinion piece is taken directly from the book's promotional materials. Hagelin and her ilk continuously blame Planned Parenthood for the sorry state of adolescent health in our country.
I would challenge anyone in Oklahoma to look into and consider the sources of sex ed in schools. I can assure you that fear and misinformation is by far more common than any comprehensive education that is provided by Planned Parenthood. I could provide sex education 24 hours a day, every day of the year and still not reach every child in every school. Plus, most of my work is with alternative programs - the programs that people like Hagelin don't seem to be concerned about.
The author does give some good advice - parents should review their children's sex ed materials. It is law in Oklahoma that these materials be made available. But since the vast majority of schools in Oklahoma do not provide any sex ed, well, there's not going to be much for parents to review.
Periodically, these sorts of opinion pieces come out. Their primary objective is to attack Planned Parenthood and scare school administrators. Parents who know better will ignore the "call to arms," and parents who believe it are usually the ones that take their kids out of any sex ed anyway.
I do sometimes worry that an unsuspecting board member of a private foundation will focus on the "radical liberal ideology" part and reconsider ever providing funds to Planned Parenthood. All I can say in response is that I am, above all, honest. I teach young people how to respect themselves and others, how to value health and healthy behaviors, how to appreciate the role that human sexuality plays in our lives, and how to always seek information that is accurate, appropriate, and applicable. If that is a pornographic, radical political agenda that promotes sexual activity, then my nearly three decades of experience working with young people must be terribly misdirected.
Do you suppose the Abstinence Clearinghouse could straighten me out?