A Christian activist is furious that his 7-year-old son came home from school with a flyer that advertised free birth control. But even after the clinic in question and the school district said it was an accident, the father, Richard Penkoski, remains convinced they’re trying to indoctrinate his son.
If you’re wondering whether he deserves the benefit of the doubt, you should know he routinely protests Drag Queen Story Hour events. So sensible judgment isn’t his strong suit.
His son came home from Mary Hughes School, part of the Sullivan County Schools, last week with a flyer advertising a free health clinic meant to cater to financially strapped families. While that flyer was intended to be handed out to adults, the same version was accidentally given to kids. It advertised “free birth control and pre-pregnancy services,” along with birth control pills and condoms.
Among other things, the flyer promoted free “implants, [intrauterine devices], pills, condoms and more.”
“What is more, exactly? And why was this given to my 7 year old?” Penkoski asked during his three minutes of floor time during the school board meeting in Blountville. “Since when is it the school’s job to give information to my child about birth control? When did the public schools decide they can teach my child issues regarding morality and sex?”
Sullivan County Director of Schools Dr. David Cox says all schools gave out flyers for the Remote Area Medical Clinic.
“What happened on the back of the information, there was another part that was inadvertently sent and it did say free birth control,” says Cox.
Dr. Cox has one message he wants to make clear to parents.
“What I want folks to know is that it was a very well intentioned effort to make people aware of free health resources,” says Cox. “That’s such an important thing.”
Penkoski doesn’t care. He’s too wrapped up in his conspiracy theory. He’s even more upset he had to talk to his son.
Penkoski said he is upset because the flyer nearly forced him to explain sex to his son before he thought his son was ready.
Oh no. Not a conversation. The horror…
Did he think he needed to explain condoms and birth control to a child? Why not just say these are things some adults use, but they’re not for kids? Any parent would know how to pivot the conversation to a different topic.
But instead of doing what every other parent would have done, he went straight to accusing the school board of usurping his authority — those are his words — something they weren’t trying to do, wouldn’t do, and didn’t do.
If the school was indeed pushing all of this on children, we could have a discussion about age-appropriate sex education and what ought to be included the curriculum. That’s not the issue here, though. Penkoski is accusing the school of something they didn’t mean to do.
You would think a guy wearing a shirt that describes Jesus in various ways would know what “forgiveness” means.