Controversial Sex Education Magazine Removed From Daviess County Public Schools
I'll be very frank. We didn't have much sex education when I was in school. In fact, most of mine came from a brochure my mother gave me. That pamphlet, if my memory serves me correctly, was compiled by Dear Abby (or someone like her) and it was full of misinformation. Looking back now, I'm really glad I ignored much of what I read. First of all, I would be completely self-loathing and I wouldn't have had an ounce of fun in college. Just saying. Yes, I'm making a joke to make a point and that point is actually serious. The sex education debate still rages on and it surfaced once again just days ago in the Daviess County School System.
Before I go any further I must tell you two things. #1. If you are easily offended by the discussion of sexuality, you need to stop reading immediately. We have plenty of fluff on our website and our YouTube channel, so you need to click through to another page ASAP. Okay, you were warned. #2. We are sharing this information not to take sides, but to illustrate a true educational challenge in our society. Just who is responsible for teaching our kids about sex? Is it parents? Is it the public school system? Is it a combination of both? And, just what exactly should kids be taught about sex? We know they're going to have it so do we encourage or discourage the behavior?
These questions, regardless of how antiquated they may seem to some, are alive, well and real. And parents at Daviess County High School got a big dose of the debate a couple of weeks ago. Care Net Pregnancy Center of Owensboro was conducting, as they have for several years at Daviess County, Apollo and Owensboro High Schools, 3-day "Sexual Integrity" classes. And literature was given to students that some parents found alarming and offensive.
One concerned parent, Lacy Jean, snapped some photos of the booklet being distributed. That magazine is J4G, which is circulated by the Human Life Alliance. The Human Life Alliance's mission, according to its website, is to "defend a culture of life and chastity through education." Here are some of the excerpts that caught Lacy's attention.
Here's another photo. This one captures a section of the instructional guide that discusses masturbation.
J4G (Just for Girls and Just For Guys), also contained a section about how girls should dress appropriately. According to Lacy, "they were teaching girls that they have to dress (in a way) so as not to tease boys." Obviously, she couldn't believe it and also wondered why no other parents had said anything about it. So, she snapped photos, suited up and carried the torch to school administration.
Outraged by the subject matter, Lacy Jean requested a meeting with Matt Mason, who is the current principal at Daviess County High School. Lacy explained her opposition to what was discussed and presented to her child in the classroom. In fact, according to her, she wasn't alone and had had "lots of pissed off parents contacting (her) saying they had no idea this was being taught." As it turns out, school officials were not aware either. And they moved swiftly.
This statement was issued by DCPS:
CareNet has provided informational programs to all three local high schools (Apollo, Daviess County and Owensboro) for 8 to 10 years. The presentations have always been INFORMATIONAL and not opinionated. This year, the CareNet representative distributed a pamphlet (Just for Guys/Just for Girls) that had NOT been reviewed/approved by school administrators. We have contacted CareNet and they have apologized for this error in judgment.
We look forward to continuing our mission of providing high school students with appropriate educational information as we support their growth as responsible young adults.
So, what exactly is Care Net, the group that brought this curriculum into the school system? According to the agency's website, Care Net Pregnancy Center of Owensboro is "a Christian not for profit organization which strives to meet the needs of women and families during untimely pregnancy. The Staff and Peer Advocates share truth in love by offering constructive, life affirming options." And, members of the organization, steadfastly stand behind the program and what they teach.
Sherrianne Leach, Director of Development for Care Net, says the high school students she encounters are "starving for the truth" and the 3-day Care Net "Sexual Integrity" program seeks to provide them with it. That program is broken into three distinct sections.
Day One is all about goals. The primary focus of Day One is the way in which sexuality is forced upon teenagers via the media. Sex, literally, is everywhere: television, books, magazines, billboards, radio, video games and the Internet. Sex truly is a click away and Care Net seeks to help teens make sense of this and get a handle on it.
On Day Two of the program, the focus shifts to birth control. And, according to Leach, the presentation is honest and frank. Students learn about the different types of birth control- what they look like, where to buy them and the frequency with which they work effectively. Abortion, as unpleasant and as divisive as it is, is also discussed.
On Day Three, the final day of the program, the focus shifts to STD's. The students learn about the wide range of sexually-transmitted diseases. They learn which ones can be cured and which ones can't. In this discussion, Leach shares an alarming statistical figure. There are an estimated 19 million teenagers diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease annually. And, here's an even more alarming stat. Only 25% of teenagers are actually getting tested.
So, what about this magazine? J4G? Leach says students "were not forced" to take a copy of the magazine with them. The magazine was simply made available to them. She also confirms that the agency, as requested by school officials, has removed the magazines from the "Sexual Integrity" program.
But it's the magazine that leads me to a very important question. And I think this question may actually be the true core of this debate. According to Lacy's children, "most of the kids just left their copies (of J4G) at school." However, her son brought his copy home because he "thought it was hilarious." So, here's that question. How "educational" is a program (or magazine) that is being laughed at by the kids it's being presented to? And does the message of the magazine actually reveal the true motive of a "Sexual Integrity" program? Is the mission "educated sexual decision-making" or is the mission "abstinence" and "purity"? And, if it is the latter, is there really harm in that?
I don't know. And, honestly, it doesn't really affect me. I've admitted it. I didn't get a lot of sex education at home or school. And, quite frankly, what I know I learned from trial and error. I've been there. I've done that. Oh, and that too. But we're talking about teenagers who maybe haven't been there or done that. So, how do we get them ready for it? Again, I don't know. But, after researching this article and talking with each side, I do know this . . .
The sex education debate is still fresh and it's entirely possible it will never end. And, today, the sides look just like the did yesterday and the day before. The youth of this world, especially in regard to sex education, are bombarded with mixed messages. They get those mixed messages at home, in school, church, magazines, from the television, and the songs they listen to on the radio. The honest and frank sex education that Lacy Jean has chosen to give her children may be the polar opposite approach that you take with your own. Is there a right answer, a right way? That depends entirely on what you think is "right."
But there is one thing we do know. Sex is biology and biology is science. And, while everyone has opinions about sex, those opinions aren't necessarily "scientific." It's my personal belief that we all need the facts in order to adopt responsible and educated opinions. It seems the journey, like it has for centuries, continues.