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August 28, 2012 Print

Sex Ed Controversies: Put Parents Back in Control

by Candi Cushman

Public schools just can’t seem to get it right with sex education lately. No matter which way they turn—there’s trouble a stirrin’.

There’s yet another Massachusetts school district in the news for giving condoms to young students . Meanwhile, activist groups including the ACLU and the Gay Straight Alliance Network are suing a California school district over its abstinence-centered education. They claim the lessons violate a state law that requires “comprehensive” sex education.

And in Washington State, a parent recently lamented the fact that a principal had  apparently given his child and other fifth grade students an extremely sexually explicit lesson.  “I didn’t appreciate them teaching my daughter—who is innocent of that—at all,” the parent told a reporter. “Basically, how I feel is, it’s just the same as raping somebody, but you’re raping their innocence instead of their physical being.” Unfortunately, his anguish is  one shared by too many parents.

My question is, why are lawmakers and government school officials trying to take control of these decisions without the involvement of parents? Shouldn’t it be up to parents and children’s legal guardians to determine when, how and if these sensitive subjects are approached with their kids— especially at young and vulnerable ages?  Why not work alongside parents instead of against them—and seek to give more respect to parents as the primary educators and guardians of their own children?

That’s exactly what our new parental rights tools on TrueTolerance.org aim to do.

The web site provides a Parents’ Bill of Rights to help parents articulate to school officials how their involvement in their child’s education should be respected and encouraged. Among other things, it lists the right to “request and arrange a time to examine textbooks, lesson plans, curriculum and supplemental materials used in their child’s classroom.”

The site also makes available a new model parental rights policy that would require schools to notify parents about topics delving into sensitive family and sexuality issues that are being taught—and then give parents an opportunity to exempt their child from courses. It would also require schools to obtain parents’ written permission before any contraceptive services or instruction could be given to their child.

To learn more, check out our new parental rights section.

You can also watch this video about disturbing school trends you should be aware of–and what to do about it.