Parents are pulling their children out of public schools for a day to protest sex education that they say has become graphic, hedonistic and ideological under the influence of pro-choice and gay rights groups.
The Sex Ed Sit Out started with parents in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has spread to nearly a dozen other cities in three countries. The April 23 protest is a grass-roots effort spearheaded by mothers who said they are disturbed by the “pornographic” content that has made its way into the classroom.
Elizabeth Johnston, a social conservative activist who blogs under the name Activist Mommy, is one of the protest’s organizers. She said most parents wouldn’t “stand for the kind of graphic, gender-bending sex ed” that schools are teaching.
“Most parents do not know this is taking place in schools,” Ms. Johnston said. “The wool is completely being pulled over their eyes, and sometimes when parents catch on and start inquiring, bureaucrats are using deceptive means of not informing them what is being taught.”
She said the movement will continue to grow as parents become more aware.
In addition to the demonstration in Charlotte, protests are planned in Sacramento, California; Bloomington, Indiana; Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Spokane, Washington; and Martinsburg, West Virginia. Rallies also are scheduled in Vancouver, British Columbia; and Mulgrave, Australia.
On the day of the protest, parents will send the same letter to principals explaining the absence.
“Pornographic sex ed is being implemented across our globe in an attempt to indoctrinate our children with ‘sexual rights,’ ” the letter reads. “This is unacceptable and [I am] joining others both nationally and globally in taking a stand to say ‘enough!’ “
The Sex Ed Sit Out has partnered with several socially conservative groups including the Family Research Council, the American Life League and the Liberty Counsel.
A CitizenGo.org petition calling for an end to “graphic, immoral sex education” has garnered more than 20,000 signatures in less than a week.
The U.S. has no federal standard for sex education. All 50 states are involved in some way in public school sex education, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia require that public schools teach sex ed.
Some schools and districts partner with groups such as Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, and the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, to determine what sex education should cover.
Planned Parenthood developed a “comprehensive” curriculum called Get Real that school boards across the country have considered adopting.
The program teaches sex education staples such as female and male anatomy, puberty and sexually transmitted diseases, but also offers lessons on “sexual identity” and “gender, sex and shared responsibility.”
Hundreds of North Carolina parents complained when Cumberland County Schools implemented Get Real in 2016. In response to the parental backlash, the county’s curriculum committee voted to end the program in February.
Spokane Public Schools will vote this month on whether to adopt a curriculum that incorporates some elements of Get Real and a variety of other resources.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho came out against the proposed curriculum last month. In its evaluation, Planned Parenthood said the program lacked LGBTQ inclusivity and was too focused on heterosexuality as the norm. The curriculum also used language that could be interpreted as shaming, the abortion giant said.
“The majority of voices in our community support an evidence-based approach to sexual health education,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “While the proposed patchwork sexual health program is better than the current sexual health education materials, our students deserve a program that has been evaluated and proven to be effective.”
The Human Rights Campaign advocates inclusion in elementary education through a program called Welcoming Schools. Among other things, the guide provides educators with ready-made answers when children ask challenging questions — “Can girls marry each other?” — and recommends books that help develop “LGBTQ-inclusive elementary schools.”
One of the books recommended by Welcoming Schools, “I am Jazz” by transgender reality-TV star Jazz Jennings, was read to kindergartners last year at Rocklin Academy Gateway, a charter school in Rocklin, California.
The Sex Ed Sit Out follows national school walkouts to protest gun violence. Ms. Johnston said the sit-out was in the planning stages in November, months before walkouts became a trend.
“We almost pulled the plug on the sit-out idea because we were concerned that the idea had become tainted in the public’s view,” Ms. Johnston said. “But people kept saying, ‘Stay the course; what you’re doing is right.’ This is a sit-out that everyone can and should be able to get behind.”
• Bradford Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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