jasonbwatson

September 26, 2014

Misguided

This post contains explicit content that may be offensive to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Today I came across an article posted this past Wednesday on the web site of the Washington Times entitled “Las Vegas schools consider teaching kindergartners about masturbation, homosexuality.” I read the article and found it difficult to fathom that even in Las Vegas would a school board really think it was a good idea to pursue such a course. So from there I checked the web site of the Las Vegas Fox affiliate and found that they had posted a story on Tuesday called “School district considering big changes to sex ed curriculum.” Some of the information there was quite similar to the Washington Times piece, prompting me to think either it’s true or there is still more to the story that is being overlooked because it would be less sensational. So I decided to go straight to the source, so to speak, because the Fox story mentioned the following: “Some changes the school board may consider are outlined [in] a 112-page document called Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, which was put together by a national task force of educators and health experts.” I assumed such a report would be easy to locate and I found, within just a few keystrokes, that I was right. The document is available on siecus.org, the site of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. Much to my amazement, the document has a copyright date of 2004, which caused me to think right away that either no other school district is using these recommendations or the assertions about what the curriculum would teach kindergartners was inaccurate. So I determined to find out.

Along the way, I found some interesting things, none of which were encouraging. First, this report already contained, ten years ago, guidelines for teaching adolescents that some babies are born with genitals that do not match their chromosomes, which is basically another way of saying that some people are born transgendered. This is a means of supporting the rapidly-growing transgender movement in the United States which I have addressed elsewhere. The September 2014 issue of High School Today, the publication of the National Federation of State High School Associations, includes an article entitled “Developing Policies for Transgender Students on High School Teams.” The thrust of that article can be understood with these two sentences: “It is important for policy-makers to understand that transgender girls (who were assigned a male gender at birth) are not boys. Their consistent and affirmed identity as girls is as deep-seated as the gender identity of non-transgender girls.” This is what the guidelines I read through are teaching as well.

I read on. One of the developmental messages recommended by the guidelines for children at Level 1 (which the guidelines define as middle childhood, ages 5-8) is this: “Vaginal intercourse – when a penis is placed inside a vagina – is the most common way for a sperm
and egg to join” (p. 26). While this is true, do I want it being taught to my kindergarten student? Absolutely not.

One of the developmental messages for Level 2 children in the topic of reproduction is this: “Sperm determine the biological sex of the fetus.” Sounds safe, perhaps, but notice what it is really saying–the “biological sex” means that ones gender and biological sex are not necessarily the same, which means that, again, this guideline is paving the way for teaching transgenderism to students. And while the transgender message described above was for adolescents (ages 15-18) this one is recommended for Level 2, ages 9-12. Upper elementary school, in other words.

To be fair, the guidelines include some very good points about Body Image. Level 1, for example, includes this: “All bodies are equally special, including those that are disabled.” Level 2 includes, “Most people do not look like what the media portrays as beautiful” and this: “The value of a person is not determined by his/her appearance.” “The media portrays beauty as a narrow and limited idea but beautiful people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities” is a Level 3 message (ages 12-15).

But then it gets worse, again, because the next section/topic is Sexual Orientation. The Level 1 messages include teaching that people can be attracted to people of the opposite gender or of the same gender and that homosexuals are all called gay men and lesbians. At Level 2 the guidelines expand on heterosexual and homosexual to provide instruction about bisexuals, as well as this statement: “The origin of people’s sexual orientation is not known.” Really? Quite the worldview being assumed there…but at least it is relatively vague. That changes at Level 3, when one of the messages is this: “People do not choose their sexual orientation.” Level 3 also includes this message–“Many scientific theories have concluded that sexual orientation cannot be changed by therapy or medicine”–without any inclusion of the fact that there are also scientific theories which conclude that sexual orientation indeed can be changed.

The sexual orientation discussion gets very interesting at Level 4, though. For example, one of the messages is this: “Sexual orientation is determined by a combination of a person’s attractions, fantasies, and sexual behaviors.” This is interesting because we see a progression. At Level 2 students are told we don’t know where orientation comes from. At Level 3 they are told that, wherever it comes from, it is not a choice. And now, at Level 4, they are told, “this is where it comes from.” This is, to me, evidence of the tenuousness of the position, because if there were certain of where it comes from it would make absolutely no sense to develop curriculum guidelines that include telling elementary students “we do not know something” and then simultaneously include telling high schoolers, “we do know, and here it is.” This is akin to telling elementary students “Santa Claus is real” then telling them later “actually, he’s not.” If it were accurate, this would be prescribed lying. Since it is not accurate, it is simply a program for gradually preparing students to accept something that is not true.

Interestingly, though, Level 4 also includes this message: “The understanding and identification of one’s sexual orientation may change over the course of his/her lifetime.” Really? I agree with that, but here is why it is so interesting. If the identification and understanding of one’s sexual orientation can change that means that one’s sexual orientation can change, too–which means, quite simply, that sexual orientation is a choice.

Sadly, the final message in this section for Level 4 is this: “Civil rights for gay men and lesbian women are being debated in many states and communities across the United States.” As I have explained in this space on numerous occasions, homosexuality is not a civil rights issue. By teaching students that it is, though, we would be prepping them to approve the “equal rights” that homosexuals are increasingly demanding.

Well, the guideline is 112 pages long and, as of the paragraph above, I am only through page 31, so unless I want to bore you to tears I better get to the point and tell you whether or not the guidelines really do teach kindergarten students about masturbation. After all, that was launched this quest in the first place.

Sexual Behavior is Key Concept 4 in the guidelines. The developmental messages for Topic 1, Level 1 of Key Concept 4 are only two: “Most children are curious about their bodies” and “Bodies can feel good when touched.” Both of these statements are true and do not, explicitly, teach masturbation. I still would not want the school teaching my child this, but it is not as horrific as the reports made out. So I am relaxing a bit. But then I go to the next page. Topic 2 of Concept 4 is called, simply, Masturbation, and the developmental messages for Level 1 are as follows: “(1) Touching and rubbing one’s own genitals to feel good is called masturbation; (2) Some boys and girls masturbate and others do not; and (3) Masturbation should be done in a private place.” So there it is. The results are unmistakable and unavoidable–these standards do, in fact, advocate teaching kindergarten students what masturbation is and where it should be done.

Oddly enough, Topic 4, on Sexual Abstinence, does not include any developmental messages for Level 1, and includes this for Level 2: “Children are not physically or emotionally ready for sexual intercourse and other sexual behaviors.” Realize, please, what that means. It means that teachers are asked to explain to children ages 5-8 what masturbation is, but are not supposed to tell them until ages 9-12 that they are not mature enough, physically or emotionally, to engage in such behavior. And this makes sense how?

The information addressed here should cause real alarm among parents. True, in this instance we’re talking about Las Vegas, but it will not stay there. This report has been out for ten years, and it is from a national organization. This is simply the beginning of the path that public schools will soon be taking if we do not take a stand and say “No, you’re not teaching that to my child.” In fact, while we cannot and should not dictate what parents teach their own children, we should take a stand and say to schools, “You’re not teaching that to any child.”

3 Comments »

  1. I’d like to ask a clarifying question or two. How do you define sexual abstinence? Is your definition of sexual abstinence different from this set of guidelines’s definition? (i.e. refraining from all vs refraining from some forms of sexual activity) What do you know about SIECUS? Are their guidelines commonly used by public, private, charter, or home schools? Did you contact Clark County SD to see follow up on the accuracy of the news articles? I found in the Trustees’ minutes the following:

    “APPROVE REVIEW OF THE CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT SEX EDUCATION
    OPERATIONAL GUIDE FOR K-12 CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
    Approval regarding the review and approval of the proposed amended Clark County School District
    Sex Education Operational Guide for K-12 Curriculum Development, as recommended in
    Reference 6.06.
    Trustee Edwards suggested that the Board provide two opportunities for public speaking input on
    Items 6.05 and 6.06, though these items do not fall under the statute requiring a notice of intent.
    Trustee Young agreed with the suggestion made by Trustee Edwards, saying any opportunity to
    provide additional review and input is welcomed.
    Trustee Edwards said she would like to discuss having an abstinence-based sex education policy
    and why it is not comprehensive.
    Mary Pike, Director, Science, Health, Physical Education, Foreign Language, and Driver
    Education, Curriculum and Professional Development Division, provided a historical perspective on
    the District’s sex education policy.
    There was some discussion regarding what the term “comprehensive sex education” means.
    Ms. Pike provided a definition from the National Sexuality Education Standards and the Sexuality
    Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). She said the District’s
    curriculum, in comparison to what is included in these documents as comprehensive sexuality
    education, does not include sexual identity or intimacy. She said the District does not provide K-12
    sex education.
    Trustee Garvey asked what the other four large urban school districts have in place. She
    expressed concern that the District embody community sensitivity to embrace the diversity of the
    District and address the needs of particular areas of the District.
    Trustee Wright said she believes the term “abstinence-based” makes the teaching staff
    apprehensive about what is appropriate for them to discuss, and she said she is not sure if that title
    is reflective of the curriculum that is being taught. She expressed concern with the movement
    away from health education in middle school and the timing of when students take health education
    between middle and high school. ”

    I see that they discussed how SIECUS defines comprehensive sex education, but I didn’t find the actual policy and curricular materials utilized by the district. I’m sure they would share that information upon request.

    Just wanted some clarification. Not taking a side.

    Comment by ohyesjulesdid — September 26, 2014 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment and your careful, impartial inquiry on this topic. I would personally define abstinence as refraining from any sexual intercourse. If you define sexual activity as including behaviors other than intercourse (by which I mean oral, vaginal and/or anal sex) then such behaviors likely would not be included in my definition of abstinence, though I still may not think they are appropriate behaviors for teenagers or unmarried individuals (depending on what you have in mind).

      What I know about SIECUS is that it is a very liberal organization, as evidenced by the fact that one of the links on its web site is to International Right Wing Watch, with the explanation that these organizations “exist to limit individuals’ access to sexual and reproductive health information, education, and services.” I am not going to attempt to speak on behalf of any organization, but I am sure that SIECUS would consider me right wing and I have no objection to access to sexual and reproductive health information or education. I do believe that parents should be involved in determining what that looks like for their children and I absolutely believe that the education the SIECUS report proposes is not consistent with what I would deem to be appropriate or acceptable in most regards. As for how many schools utilize the SIECUS recommendations for sexual education, I do not know.

      To your question of whether or not I contacted the school district in Las Vegas, I did not. I felt that there was sufficient information in reputable news sources that the story had legs. If I were a reporter I certainly would contact the school district before writing my story. However, the real point of my post was on the SIECUS guidelines, not the Las Vegas schools.

      Comment by jbwatson — September 30, 2014 @ 6:49 pm | Reply


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