Should sex ed have changed since the mid 80s? Do our kids need to understand the world we live in?
Omaha Public Schools has not revised its sex education classes for 30 years.
So there’s nothing about ‘sexting’ or bullying over sexual orientation and gender identity. This curriculum goes back to a time where no sitting President had even uttered the word ‘AIDS’ in public.
Updating it is a no-brainer.
Omaha parents agree. In a survey of 1,500 parents, 97% supported almost all the proposed changes.
The only drop in support was about discussing sexual orientations, gender concepts and relationships. 25% of the parents were against kids being given that information. But that means the majority are in favor.
What a stink a minority can make, however.
A group of healthcare professionals, educators, and reproductive rights activists were prepared to vocally support the new curriculum in front of the Omaha Public School board.
They had even started a petition begging the school board to arm Omaha’s kids with the lessons they need to make healthy decisions about sex.
Then a thousand angry homophobes descended.
Nebraskans for Founders Values, Christ Community Church and other mega churches had recruited their supporters to show up brandishing signs, pasting stickers all over the auditorium and yelling. Much of what they shouted out was false – the claim ‘Planned Parenthood designed the curriculum’ was a popular one and completely untrue.
Melissa Tibbits PhD, presented the study on local parents’ attitudes. The last slide dealt with sexual orientation and it threw the 70% of the audience that was homophobic into a booing frenzy. From that moment, rational discussion was impossible, as the mob resorted to screaming and shouting.
Megan Hunt, a modernizer, videoed one mom, Deanna Rabuck. Rabuck wailed about the ‘purity’ of her daughters. It is her job, not the school board’s, to take charge of that ‘purity’, she shouted.
It was unclear what part of ‘these classes are not mandatory’ she did not understand. She is welcome to keep her kids in ignorance if she wants. She later admitted to a local news station she ‘isn’t proud of her outburst’.
Hunt confirmed to me: ‘The most protested topic, in my estimation, was the inclusion of the LGBT community in the curriculum. This seemed to be the biggest point of protest as opposed to the abortion/ planned parenthood/ contraception issue…
‘I’m a single mother with a daughter who is five and in kindergarten in Omaha Public Schools. Nobody who supports comprehensive sexual education is opposed to a family’s right to teach values to their children.
‘But offering our public school children a curriculum that doesn’t address healthy relationships, consent, and LGBT issues, in addition to public health facts and figures, would not be coming from a place of facts or reason.
‘Our children deserve medically-accurate, research-based information.’
Amid all the shouting, one group was overlooked.
Seated politely waiting to speak to the school board was a group of LGBTI identified students. As they waited, they were subjected to attack, vitriol and abuse by the homophobic audience members around them. One woman confronted them, physically touching them and speaking in their faces.
She focused on one young woman in particular before group advisor, Billie Mari Grant, interceded.
Grant later described how the outburst of homophobia had impacted that young woman:
‘I went over and knelt front of her. I asked her if she wanted to leave. Without speaking, her face red, eyes welling up with tears, she nodded her head.
‘I asked her if she would like a hug. She nodded again. I hugged her, stroked her hair, telling her that some people were still so ignorant, but that luckily she was a part of a beautiful, accepting, and supportive family.’
The mob around them would not stand for the comfort Grant was offering. ‘Why is she crying? Oh is she confused?’ they screamed at them.
Grant was accused of turning the students ‘gay’. As a young man came down and became physically threatening, Billie ushered the LGBTI students from the auditorium.
Here is my letter to that mob:
Dear ‘Purity Parents’,
If you see yourselves as the ideal parents, I am embarrassed for you. I am a parent, and I seek to build worth in children, not tear it down.
If you believe yourselves the ideal Christians, I am embarrassed. I am a Christian, and there was nothing about your behavior that Christ would condone.
You abused LGBTI kids. You traumatized them and tried to demoralize them. If you had gotten your way, that bullying would have led to self-harm or other unhealthy behavior. To say you were irresponsible is an understatement.
That damage is comparatively minor to the other children you harmed – your own.
Your own straight kids are being lead on a path of ignorance. You are teaching them to batter those they do not understand. They are still comparatively lucky though.
The unluckiest ones of all are your own LGBTI kids.
Chances are you don’t know who they really are yet. In your number, statistically speaking, there are likely at least 21 who will identify as gay or lesbian. There are several hundred who will identify as something other than straight. All of them will suffer from your hate.
There will come a day where you will wonder where a destructive act, a series of depressions, a suicide comes from. I’m going to tell you now: It came from you.
It may be Pure-something, but it is not love.
Children from LGBTI families are pure, they are innocent. Children who are LGBTI are equally innocent. All children need to be respected. You teaching your kids to disrespect mine is not ‘purity’ and it is not acceptable.
You want to keep your kids innocent, optimistic, free in spirit. I want the same thing for my kids, and for kids who are discovering they are LGBTI.
All children need information about who they are and what will happen to them as they grow into adults. They need to understand other people around them.
Sex education helps to make them healthier, helps them make worthwhile choices, and can save lives.
Ignorance is not purity. It’s just ignorance.
The fact you don’t understand LGBTI lives doesn’t mean you should stop your kids from learning about them, let alone stop any other kids from learning about them.
Here’s an idea – ask the school board to take the new classes yourself.
I know one mother who held out on her son in terms of both understanding him, as well as helping him to understand himself. She realized her mistake as he lay dying in a coma after his suicide attempt. Don’t be that mother.