Parents to Fayette School Board: ‘Take social engineering out of sex education’

13
8855
More than 200 people filled the meeting room at the Feb. 24 meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education. The vast majority opposed the proposed change to sex education curriculum. Photo/Ben Nelms.
More than 200 people filled the meeting room at the Feb. 24 meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education. The vast majority opposed the proposed change to sex education curriculum. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Parents slam new sex education courses; school board accused of failing to oversee flawed process; nearly 2 dozen speakers criticize school officials’ choices — 

The Fayette County Board of Education at the Feb. 24 meeting got an earful from community members opposed to the proposed sex education curriculum that would take the place of the one used for years. Most of the 24 speakers in public comments opposed replacing that curriculum with one they said would bring aspects of sexuality they consider inappropriate into the classroom.

Meetings of the school board are often well-attended, at least at the beginning of the meetings where students and parents fill the room as children receive a variety of recognitions. Once that portion of the meeting is done, the room essentially empties, except for two to three dozen people, nearly all of whom are school system employees.

That was not the case on Feb. 24. After the 14 recognitions were complete, there were more than 200 people in the room and spilling over into the hallway. Based on the applause following the comments of the vast majority of the 24 speakers making public comments, it was clear that the audience supported those speakers questioning the proposed health curriculum that is causing controversy among some in the community.

The 13-member selection committee for the new Health and PE curriculum textbooks to be used in Fayette County public schools continues to meet, prior to the committee making its recommendation to the school board in the spring. There are some on the committee taking issue with portions of the textbooks being reviewed that deal with aspects of sexuality that they consider inappropriate for the classroom.

The mass of people at the Feb. 24 school board meeting was evidence that those on the selection committee opposed to some of what they have reviewed have support in the community.

One of those speaking in public comments was Dave Richardson, who said what is going on with the committee is unethical and illegal, and questioning why the school system administration would permit it.

Richardson noted that the majority of committee members are educators, which he said is not supposed to be the case according to state law. That law, Richardson said, specifies that the committee will be composed primarily of nonteaching parents who have children enrolled in the school system, and augmented by others such as educators, health professionals and community representatives.

Peachtree City resident Dave Richardson speaks to the Fayette County Board of Education. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Peachtree City resident Dave Richardson speaks to the Fayette County Board of Education. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Richardson added that state standards are currently under review, making it inappropriate for the curriculum committee to be meeting without the completion of the revised state standards.

Chairman Scott Hollowell interrupted Richardson, saying that he was maligning staff, to which Richardson responded, “No, I’m not.”

“Gentlemen, you’re waiting on a lawsuit,” Richardson said near the conclusion of his comments.

Another speaker, Randy Hough, said he was concerned about what educators might teach, adding that the school board has failed in its responsibility to see that the curriculum process is done correctly.

“Choosing the right curriculum for sex education is one of the most important decisions you make,” Hough said.

Hough continued, saying, “It appears that based on the process failures (noted by Richardson), board members have directly or indirectly failed in their responsibility to properly oversee that the curriculum selection process was done correctly. Either way, should sufficient evidence be found that suggests that those who organized, selected, trained and directed public committee members may have done so with knowledge that what they were doing was not in compliance with existing laws and standards, then members of the board have no other choice but to suspend further action by the selection committee until such time as the violations are investigated and resolved. To do otherwise would be a clear breach of trust for which the citizens of this county will hold each of you responsible.”

Carrying petitions from the Whitewater school district, Charles Bennett said even if opting-out of the sex education portion of the curriculum, kids would run the risk of being bullied by other students. That position was noted by other speakers during public comments.

“We want sex education with its social engineering removed from the school system,” he said.

Among the public speakers were some who are former local educators.

One of those was Tammy Melton who said, “Changing the approach to sex education (from the ‘Choosing the Best’ curriculum offered locally for years) troubles me.”

Melton said she was concerned about the consequences of using inappropriate material referencing things such as masturbation.

“This will bring (students) into sexual bondage,” she said.

Lead Pastor Chuck Chambers of Woolsey Baptist Church noted the negative consequences of sex before marriage as a part of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) curriculum.

Another pastor, Josh Saefkow, who is also a parent and member of the health curriculum committee, requested that the school board freeze the textbook selection process and, for the time being, continue using the current Choosing the Best curriculum.

Those comments expressed Saefkow’s sentiments in a recent letter to the editor at thecitizen.com (https://thecitizen.com/2020/01/19/pastor-warns-about-new-sex-education-books-being-considered-for-fayette-schools/)

Jane Owens, another selection committee member, asked the school board to stop the process, and to step back and review “how it got to this point.”

Though nearly all the speakers were in opposition to the proposed curriculum, local physician Patricia Moore spoke in favor of it, citing the benefits of CSE. Noting that abstinence is important, Moore said there are consequences to actions, and if a student does become sexually-active they need to learn how to protect themselves.

CSE instruction increases the rate of those postponing becoming sexually-active, Moore said, adding that in the absence of CSE, a student can turn to other resources where they can get false information.

Another speaker, Ryan Duncan, was adamant that the school board works for the citizens, asking why the school board might want to make a change from the current Choosing the Best program that is working.

“Why would you want to change it? We want to know,” he said, addressing Superintendent Jody Barrow. “You have to answer that question. We run this county. You work for us.”

The school board at the conclusion of public comments voted 4-1, based on a motion by board member Barry Marchman, to address how the proposed change to the sex education curriculum came about at the March 9 work session to be held in the meeting room at 2 p.m. Leonard Presberg opposed the motion.

Portions of the books being reviewed by the committee deal with a variety of topics, such as abstinence, dating, declining a date, sexual orientation and gender identity (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, intersexual and LGBTQ), sexual awakening, masturbation, pregnancy, pregnancy termination, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and “coming out.”

Among the health textbooks/workbooks under consideration are “Glencoe Human Sexuality,” “Comprehensive Health Skills for Middle School,” “Pearson Human Sexuality,” and “Glencoe Teen Health — Healthy Relationships and Sexuality.”

In “Comprehensive Health Skills for Middle School,” middle school students in the workbook are given a number of activities and lessons, with students given scenarios or questions, and space in the workbook to provide a written response.

As an example, one of the middle-school-age scenarios states: “Carsen’s sexual urges and emotions have increased since he began dating Katie. Katie is also very sexually attracted to Carsen. Home alone, they begin to kiss. Kissing leads to intimate touches, and both share the desire to have sex. Include at least three strategies for effective use of this method.”

The student is asked to provide a written response to: How would you finish the story to help Carsen and Katie decide what they should do to reduce their risk of STIs (sexually transmitted infections)?

In the section entitled “Am I normal?” students are to imagine that they are responsible for managing a school blog that allows a safe place for eighth graders to ask questions about their sexual health. Based on that criteria, students are asked to give a written response relevant to the questions.

An example of one of the questions is: “I’m embarrassed to ask, but is it normal to ejaculate while I’m sleeping. I wake up and am surprised and uncomfortable. Am I normal?”

For his part, Marchman recently said, “I think some of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) curriculum is too comprehensive, and not what I’d consider age-appropriate,” adding that he has not seen the books being reviewed by the committee.

The texts are in both hard-copy and digital versions. One set being considered is the G-W Comprehensive Health Skills for Middle Schools, several pages of which The Citizen has viewed. The pages titled “Choose Your Own Ending,” “Understanding Different Types of Sexuality,” “The Effects of Homophobia,” and “Am I Normal” contain this warning: “Copyright Goodheart-Willcox Co. Inc. May not reproduced or posted to a publicly accessible website.”

Under “The Effects of Homophobia” (Activity C Lesson 19.1, page 219) the student is asked what the impacts of the following scenarios will be:

  • Transgender Carly has moved from one school to another to escape bullying, but at the new school is faced with “rude and inappropriate comments.”
  • Iyanna makes the “difficult decision” to confess to her parents that she is bisexual and instead of receiving their support, “her parents made her feel like an outcast and unloved with their rude and threatening comments.”

Under a “Key Terms Review” in the same G-W text, the “correct” answer to the definition “Irrational fear of homosexuality” is the term “homophobia.” Under the definition “Referring to a person who chooses a gender identity different from the one assigned by society,” the apparent correct answer is “transgender.” The pages reviewed were free of religious or moral stances about sexual issues.

According to the United Nations Population Fund: “CSE (Comprehensive Sexuality Education) ultimately promotes sexual abstinence as the safest sexual choice for young people. However, CSE curriculums and teachers are still committed to teaching students about topics connected to future sexual activity, such as age of consent, safe sex, contraception such as: birth control, abortion and use of condoms. The most widely agreed benefit of using comprehensive sex education over abstinence-only sex education is that CSE acknowledges the student population will be sexually active in their future. By acknowledging this, CSE can encourage students to plan ahead to make the healthiest possible sexual decisions.”

From another source: “This (CSE) ideology of arming students to most successfully survive their future sexual experiences underlies the majority of topics within CSE, including condoms, contraception and refusal skills,” according to “Sex Education in California Public Schools: Are students learning what they need to know?”

If the proposed new sex education curriculum is adopted, school system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach said parents will be able to opt-out if desired. She also noted that the digital copies to be used by teachers are the same as the hard copy books being reviewed by the committee.

13 COMMENTS

  1. While much of the debate over sex education revolves on whether it’s too soon, or whether it’s too much, other questions need to be considered such as whether all parents have the knowledge and ability to properly and comprehensively convey, on a timely basis, the knowledge that their children need to have. Sooner or later our adolescents will learn about sex, quite often from their classmates (and sometimes nowadays from the internet or TV), and the information is likely to be incomplete and may often be incorrect. Learning from experience here is like mixing unknown chemicals in a chemistry lab and seeing what happens: we certainly don’t want that, as what you learn may be too late, and life-changing in a bad way. A dispassionate discussion of the issues here should be welcome, so long as it does not degenerate into paralysis by analysis, which can be the goal of opiniated people with agendas.

    • The issue here isn’t to teach or not to teach. The issue here is we have an excellent curriculum currently that has proven very effective. The vast majority, 90%+, of the parents that turned out are very happy with it. Why would someone(s) from the superintendent’s office usurp the responsibility to produce the request for curriculum submission from the review committee and write it so as to bar our current curriculum from qualifying? And why would the committee be structured without any regard for state law directing how it should be structured?

    • I’m sorry Claude Y Paquin, but your comments read as if the debate regards whether to deliver a simple birds and bees curriculum and at what age. It ain’t.
      The debate is over whether to promote the current (among the progressive crowd) anything goes attitudes when it comes to sexuality. – Feel like a girl today Joey? That’s okay… everyone has these feelings. You should explore them! Here are some materials and a website to support your new you! (don’t tell mom)
      This is no joke and nothing to ignore. The Progressive Left is happy to mislead anyone and especially any child away from the nuclear family and away from societal norms, simply because they loathe the status quo where it involves these things. There is much to be said in this regard, but I’ll spare you.
      Soon enough, their side will insist on trans-gendered story time in Fayette classrooms. Don’t doubt it.

      • In November 1990, the Journal of the General Practice Section of the State Bar of Georgia (not normally thought of as a drinking group) published an article of mine titled The Birds and the Bees on the Bulls and the Bears. It was about the stock market, not sex, but it did establish my credentials about the birds and the bees. My first thought upon hearing (from you) about Joey feeling like a girl was that he must have been thinking about shopping and keeping clean. The fact of the matter is that we have loads of drama queens nowadays who take some of that stuff way too seriously and pompously show up at public meetings filled with outrage about assorted imaginary wrongs liable to destroy the world as we know it. I feel sorry for public officials who have to put up with these exaggerated displays of concern and pretend this is serious. Were I a kid again, I would have a big laugh about a lot of the stuff drama queens try to get us to take seriously, and my parents wouldn’t have to go to public meetings to protest anything.

  2. Omitted from this article is the data that was presented showing very clearly on graphs that Fayette County has the lowest rates of infection of STD’s and pregnancies of either the metro Atlanta counties or Georgia counties of similar size. The lowest absolute numbers and the lowest per capita.

    What we currently use is working extremely well.

    .

  3. Omitted from this article is the data that was presented showing very clearly on graphs that Fayette County has the lowest rates of infection of STD’s and pregnancies of either the metro Atlanta counties or Georgia counties of similar size. The lowest absolute numbers and the lowest per capita.

    What we currently use is working extremely well.

    The data also shows that counties using CSE type curriculums are among the WORST performing.

    The article didn’t address that the request for curriculum proposal was written BEFORE the formation of the review committee AND it was written clearly to exclude this current curriculum..

    There is something rotten in the superintendent’s office. It was a good time to retire. There are some others that need to retire or be retired.

  4. Please reference the article in The Citizen regarding an increase of STDs in Fayette County. This is exactly why we need a progressive sex education curriculum that meets the needs of the individual, as well as benefits the community at large, within our public education system. An increase in the rate of STDs in Fayette County is exactly why an “abstinence-focused” curriculum is a complete failure. It doesn’t serve a useful purpose to the individual student and it doesn’t serve a useful purpose to the community at large.

  5. As a parent of children in the Fayette County School system I am appalled at the hidden agenda and drive to sexualize our children and to force this new social engineering agenda upon them. The parents who spoke are correct. We need to find out how we ended up here. Who is driving this agenda and what their motives are.

    There is NO need to change the curriculum! It is being driven by persons within the school system. It is driven by political agenda and greed. Those who want to change our curriculum and those who profit from the new curriculum.

    As noted the law in Georgia is clear on the make up of the selection committee, The board and its functionaries have failed miserably at following it. Parents with students in the system need to make up the majority. The so called “professional” educators who have created this time consuming, cash burning, sexualized disaster need to be held accountable. This is abhorrent and UNACCEPTABLE. If the school board does not take immediate and decisive action to correct this injustice, hold the forces behind the move to change the curriculum accountable and remove them and their ilk immediately then the parents and citizens of this county will have NO CHOICE but to take to the legal system with lawsuits, injunctions, protests, using all channels and other actions until we can elect accountable representatives to the board and replace those who have tried to force this sexualized social engineering coup on our innocent children. Unfortunately, That means more money will be lost on lawyers, lawsuits, countersuits etc. that could go to better facilities, educator salaries and programs where it is needed.

    If the school board, and the despicable social engineering advocates think that this is going to go away or the response from parents is going to go away they are sorely misguided and mistaken. Our children our the most important thing. We will not allow “social engineering” to confuse and potentially destroy their lives. The school board has effectively triggered the beginning of what could be at minimum the most expensive, politically explosive and divisive issue by their mismanagement and hands off approach to the issue.
    For Scott Hollowell the chairman to call a citizen, a taxpayer like Mr. Richardson out for “Maligning Staff” and interrupt him shows both the contempt for the taxpayers, citizens and parents. Further Mr. Hollowell is WRONG! Stating facts and pointing out the Georgia Law is NOT maligning it is showing how Mr. Hollowell has failed to uphold the public trust and affect the job for which title he holds. He has allowed the law to be broken either from omission or by design and it does NOT help his situation to attempt to blame Mr. Richardson and to interrupt him for pointing out the same.
    Mr. Hollowell further may have ascended to far up the shiny gleaning tower that his position and his ego created and have forgotten that he is accountable and reports to us. We are equipped with the tools needed to contain and control that abusive and maniacal behavior, We have the ability to file lawsuits, injunctions, request investigations, protest, and drag out the clock until the next elections when we can vote them out. I think Mr. Richardson who only pointed out facts and the law is owed a huge public apology from Chairman Scott Hollowell immediately.

    The response from the school board, specifically from Mr. Hollowell a man who seems to have forgotten his role as a public servant showed contempt towards the people he is at the end accountable to. This is a call to arms for the parents, citizens and taxpayers of this county. This is the Waterloo of our children’s education battle. While the enemy quietly engineered their coup, Their social engineering agenda, the enemy has been see and identified. There is NO need to change the curriculum. We need to work at Improving our children’s lives not re-engineering them to meet some narrow political agenda that will only cause pain, confusion and angst within the future generation.

    Let’s see how the board responds.. However and without reservation we need to be prepared to fight this attempt to change our children’s future and outlook. We do not want this, do not need it and will not accept this attack at reason and sensibility in order to move a narrow, extreme, social engineering attack on our children and their way of life. The ball is in the School Board’s court and we are all anxiously watching, waiting and preparing.

  6. As a mother of three school age children (13, 10, 6) & community volunteer, I attended last night’s FCBOE meeting – our of curiosity & concern, primarily to learn more about sex education in our public schools.

    I was humbled by the care & concern, desire to protect, and community’s commitment to keep the well-being of our children a top-priority.

    The consensus, overwhelming, seemed to be the desire to keep our children safe from “over-information” regarding sex. That we need to continue supporting status quo sex curriculum of last 20 years – “Choosing the Best” self-described “abstinence-focused” curriculum published by a Georgia-based company OG the same name. I encourage parents to read up on this curriculum from independent sources.

    My primary concern over resistance to adapt our curriculum is that if we don’t – are we preparing, properly equipping our children w/knowledge & tools to rightly navigate the increasingly complex world & sexually confusing/overwhelming culture they are inheriting?

    Today is not what it was 20 years ago. Our children are inundated w/sexual messaging -images, pressures, temptations on tv, social media, football games(!) that they are increasingly not prepared to navigate. I first became aware of this as a MS youth group leader at my PTC denominational church, of whom several members were in attendance last night. Once the kids saw me as a “safe” person to talk to – they started bringing me their questions, concerns, asking for advice & sharing what was happening on social media & the pressures of being a teen today. And it broke my heart. Bc commentators last night were right! Our kids are TOO young to be “exposed” to many of the sexual elements being addressed w/new curriculum – the problem tho, is that they already are being exposed & not properly guided. We have to evolve & adapt to current culture in order to prepare them to make smart & informed decisions, specific to time & place they are living. Our modern culture (music, tv, commercials, Social media, football games) – ooze messages of sex. There’s an attitude that it’s no big deal. And I agree w/consensus of commentators last night – sex is a very big deal.

    Public school is required to serve the needs of every student. Just teaching “no” doesn’t help the students that will say “yes”. Our kids are being “discipled” by the culture. And the vast majority of them are in desperate need of help & guidance to navigate what they are being exposed to in everyday life in public school. Our kids are living in the age of knowledge & technology & “instant access” at their fingertips. Nowadays, when kids don’t know something, or are curious – they “ask” google or youtube.

    I do think public schools have a moral obligation to provide comprehensive education that will equip & prepare the whole student for the world in which they are inheriting. I am very concerned ab/comments regarding committee & selection process. The District’s “dyslexia committee” is compromised in same way – very concerning.

    I am grateful for a community that actively desires what is in best interest of children & acts on that belief. I left before comments finished so that I could get home to tuck my kids into bed – and I left sad – because I wish it was this simple – to keep our kids safe. I know that it is not – because I’m involved, on many levels across diverse spectrum in community – our kids are already exposed to the things we know they are not prepared for. (That happened when we introduced technology.) Our kids are woefully unprepared, overwhelmed & unsure of how to talk to parents ab/reality of sexual issues they’re facing.

    Comprehensive sex education won’t prevent us as parents from teaching our kids our varying standards for moral behavior. Perhaps, if our kids are learning the “facts” at school it will even help guide/direct our own convos w/our kids. It will show us what they are actually being confronted w/by culture (that we can never be inoculated from). What if that educational “framework” were to free those of us that are engaged & committed to life of faith, to focus on explaining/expanding on our own religious beliefs and behavioral expectations.

    • Out of all the vitriolic statements I’ve read from this article, none were as thoughtful and well written as yours. I can appreciate your level headed and balanced approached to this sensitive topic. I only wished more folks understood the subject matter like you stated it. We are living in a different world today than the one we grew up in and our parents. But some folks are too frighten of the unknown and rather keep their heads in the sand. Which is why I’ve learned a valuable lesson about some people when trying to put for reasonable opinions during discussion and that lesson reminds me of this quote from Mark Twain: “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience”. Be blessed Angie B. Wilson. Thanks for sharing.