Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sex-Education Controversy

Excerpt from "New National Sex-Education Standards Stir Controversy," Crosswalk, by Michael Foust. January 18, 2012--Four leading education organizations have released national sex-ed standards that encourage fifth-graders to be taught about sexual orientation and eighth-graders to learn about gender identity and the morning-after pill, but many say the recommendations infringe on parental rights. The non-binding standards by the National Education Association and three other groups are billed as the "first-ever national standards" for sex-ed in schools, and they provide detailed suggestions for what students should learn by the second, fifth, eighth and 12th grades. From a social conservative's standpoint, nearly every page of the recommendations has something controversial.

By the second grade, students are to learn the "proper names for body parts, including male and female anatomy." By the fifth grade, they should learn that sexual orientation is the "romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender." By the end of the eighth grade, students should be able to "differentiate between gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation" and learn about the morning-after pill, which can cause abortions. They also should know how to use a condom, the standards say. Gender identity is a term that refers to men and women who, in essence, believe they were born the wrong sex. Both gender identity and gender expression encompass cross-dressers and transgendereds.

Although the recommendations are non-binding, the NEA and the other groups hope they catch on with schools. Others, though, are hoping schools simply ignore them. Bob Stith, the National Strategist for Gender Issues at Southern Baptist Convention said, "The reality is that it has the potential to create serious conflicts between parents and children. If children are taught values that are in direct opposition to the biblical values of their parents, those parents would be put in an adversarial position with their own children. This is just simply not a healthy approach."

Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) described the standards as full of "special-interest agendas." "When we set standards, we should communicate the ideal, the best message to achieve optimal health," Huber said. "When a set of guidelines fails to provide any meaningful emphasis on optimal health but instead gives priority to 'condom negotiation' skills, we have not set standards; we have lowered them and put our children at increased risk."

Rosemary SteinCMDA Member and Board Certified Pediatrician Rosemary Stein, MD: "Several weeks ago a document was released that outlines what our children need to have mastered in the area of sexuality at different grade levels. It has taken nearly two years, much taxpayer money and many 'experts' in the area of sexuality and education to author this compendium. The report appears to have many readers in either a state of elation or an uproar about its conclusions and guidelines.

"This vast group of reviewers suggest that there needs to be a universal sexuality curriculum since American schools currently do not have one. It suggests that 'too little time is devoted' to teaching our children about sex issues in our schools. Therefore, it must be a good idea for our failing schools to broaden their curriculum to further instruct our children about sex at an earlier age.

"The report cites a 2004 NPR poll that concludes most parents think it is important for sex to be taught in schools, and that birth control and pregnancy prevention are appropriate topics for schools to teach. This new 'policy via polling' provides a pretense to dictate to all Americans what our kids need to know about sex.

"The new guidelines state that second graders should master the names of their private areas, fifth graders should understand and respect sexual orientation and eighth graders need to be proficient on using a condom correctly. Schools are recommended to devote more than 17.2 hours per year on this new education.

"Barely 70 percent of our children achieve passing scores in the basic areas of math and reading. We spend two to three times more per student in public versus private schools - on average $9,000 per pupil. Too many of our public schools are failing to educate our children well in the basics. It comes down to priorities. Should we teach our 13-year-olds how to put on a condom, or should we teach them how to read proficiently? Sex education is best left in the hands of the parents. Schools should go back to focusing on the three Rs. Before political agendas infiltrated our schools, they did a credible job of teaching our children.

"Let's demand that our school systems improve their instruction on how our children read, write and do math. As in many other parts of the government, the schools have proven to be failures in administering to our greatest assets - our children. It would be folly to hand over our children's sexual education to those who have such a poor track record.

"This is not only a Christian issue, or a conservative issue; it is a parenting issue. Until we stand up for what is of grave importance to us, we will continue to lose the battle. When these guidelines come to our local schools, let us tell the school board what we think about them. This is not an area where we can afford to be shy. The future of American education is counting on us!"

Editor's Note: CMA has signed on to the National Abstinence Education Association letter below, and we urge to sign on as well.

Add your voice to the NAEA letter that is asking that federal sex education policy place a strong emphasis on sexual risk avoidance abstinence education.

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