Washington is one of the handful of states controlled by Democrats, which is why they just passed a bill, SB 5395, requiring public schools to teach comprehensive sex education instead of the harmful abstinence-only misinformation campaign often promoted by conservative Christians. It just awaits the governor’s signature.
Among other things, the bill requires schools to teach evidence-based, age-appropriate, inclusive sex ed. That includes teaching kids how to identify behaviors contributing to sexual violence, promoting “affirmative consent,” and allowing guest speakers to present information to kids. By 2021, students would be learning this material beginning in kindergarten.
It’s not often we see a sex ed curriculum this good. It respects science, while avoiding religious myths. It obviously doesn’t encourage kids to do anything they don’t want to do. It reminds them they control their own bodies. It also allows parents to excuse their kids from these lessons, no questions asked.
But naturally, some Christians are very upset about all this.
According to Caleb Backholm, writing for the Christian non-profit group My Faith Votes — Mike Huckabee is the Honorary National Chairman — this bill is nothing but disaster.
He gets specific, too. For example, here’s his criticism of teaching children a lesson that “emphasizes the importance of affirmative consent”:
Consent is what determines if sex is right or wrong. As addressed above, all the major theistic religions of the world teach that sex between “two consenting people” is still usually wrong. For a plan that constantly claims to be “comprehensive,” it fails to truthfully tell our children that sex is about far more than just consent. If our children get the impression that consent is all that matters in their sex lives, they will have been horribly miseducated.
No one’s saying consent is all that maters, only that consent matters. These Christians are mad that the curriculum doesn’t put sex on a pedestal.
He’s also mad about the bill saying abstinence can’t be taught exclusively — as if telling kids about their birth control options is somehow anti-Christian.
And he’s mad that the bill doesn’t condemn homosexuality.
And he’s mad that transgender people aren’t maligned.
And he’s mad about the “age-appropriate” rule because it means children will learn about the existence of sex.
He’s really mad about the guest speakers.
“Guest speakers” will be invited to speak on these topics in the schools. I know from personal experience of my own children at the high schools that the guest speaker is often a Planned Parenthood representative. The giant abortion provider is given a significant influential platform to market to our children — all high school age and younger — about their contraceptive and abortion services. Planned Parenthood’s goal is not simply to educate but eventually to turn these students into their customers.
Another concern? Christian kids wouldn’t be allowed to harass LGBTQ students:
What if a student or teacher states that homosexuality is among the list of sexual desires that should be resisted, or that biology teaches that there are only two genders and humans can’t change theirs? Will those people be reported for harassment toward a child or staff member who identifies as gay or transgender? I’ll just go ahead and answer this one. Yes, they will be.
If you’re harassing LGBTQ kids, you should be punished. There’s a difference between legal discussion about religious beliefs and illegal promotion of them. Backholm can’t tell the difference because his religion involves demeaning other people.
Finally, Backholm admits the opt-out policy for parents is appreciated, but it’s still not enough. He doesn’t want his kids to be taken out of class. He wants your kids taken out of class.
Like I told my son’s health teacher last year when she offered the same opt-out over transgender training of 9th graders, I don’t want him opted out — I want all the other kids opted out.
This is the Conservative Christian Dream: Making sure everyone is as ignorant as they are.
Christians are allowed to perpetuate whatever myths they want about sex. It doesn’t mean any of it is true, and it certainly doesn’t mean the government should be doing the same. This bill makes sure that’s not happening.
Whenever the Christian Right hates an education bill this much, it’s probably because it actually educates children. That’s true of science, that’s true of reading banned books, and that’s true of sex education.
Just because they want to keep their kids in the dark doesn’t mean the rest of us need to sink to their levels. Thankfully, in Washington, that won’t be the case.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Mollie for the link)