Some parents in Omaha, Nebraska, are protesting proposed revisions to the school district’s sexual education program, with one angry mother equating the new curriculum to rape.
"Yes we need to give children an education. But the curriculum that you have, the standards you have, gives children too much information," one woman, who was not identified, said at a school board meeting on Monday night according to KETV video. "It rapes children of their innocence."
Omaha Public Schools hasn’t revised its sex education program in three decades.
"I will be 28 years old on January 12th. And the curriculum hasn’t been updated ever since I have been born," board member Marque Snow told WOWT, the local NBC station. "Within 28 years you have had so many changes just within Human Growth and Development but also within the changes in our society and medication, STDs and the rise of it in our culture."
The proposed curriculum would give children information about both abstinence and contraceptive options, but would not provide condoms or other forms of birth control, according to information posted online by the district.
It would also add LGBT topics to the 7th grade curriculum that "center on teaching individuals to be respectful of one another, even if ideas and beliefs are different."
Parents who disagree with the program can choose to have their children opt out of the classes.
The revisions drew almost immediate protests when they were proposed last year.
At a December meeting, a parent complained that the only sex education that should be taught should be limited to heterosexual relationships within the context of marriage.
“I very strongly believe that sexual education for our children should only be about a loving relationship between a man and a woman within the bounds of marriage,” Margarita Hernandez said, according to Omaha.com. “Marriages never make it into the picture of sex education in the schools.”
One mother compared giving students information about condoms to giving them alcohol.
"Kids are going to do things… they’re going to go behind their parents’ backs to have sex, some of them," Gwen Easter said at Monday night’s meeting, according to the video posted by KETV. "But there are some that are not going to do that. And just because kids want to drink, are you going to give them a bottle of alcohol to help them with alcoholism?"
Easter said the board must stop its "hidden agenda stuff."
A telephone survey of parents showed widespread support for the new curriculum, the school district said. For example, 93.1 percent said the district should teach both abstinence and prevention while just 5.3 percent said the program should teach abstinence only.
In addition, 70 percent of parents said the district should teach "sexual orientation, LGBT inclusion and gender identity," with many respondents saying these issues should be introduced by 7th grade.
Emergency contraceptive and abortion were originally part of the program, but have been removed despite having the support of between 60 percent and 70 percent of parents.
Several board members said those topics should have been included in the program.
"I don’t think ‘Leave something out because it’s distasteful to some people’ is sound educational policy," said Marian Fey, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Many of the parents who spoke at Monday night’s meeting agreed with the new program.
"I believe It is our responsibility to give our children the tools that they need to make informed decisions in this changing world that we live in," said parent Sasha Forsen, according to the KETV video of the event. "I believe that this curriculum provides facts. I think we can debate morality all day long, but I think it’s really important to provide facts."
The board will decide on the proposal on Jan. 20. One board member, Lacey Merica, said she isn’t sure how she will vote, but she agreed the standards needed an update.
“Our world has changed so much even in the 15 years since I graduated high school,” Merica told the Omaha World-Herald. “We didn’t have sexting, we didn’t have the Internet like we do know. We didn’t know about sex trafficking. These are things kids need to know.”
(h/t Raw Story)
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