Cathy Ruse is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article was co-written with Austin Ruse, President of C-Fam. This article appeared in The Stream on June 15, 2018.
The final vote was a foregone conclusion. No one thought deeply ideological Fairfax County (VA) School Board would vote any other way than 10-1 for what is among the most radical sex-ed curriculum in the country.
The ten board members, whose names are listed below and who should go down in infamy, voted for children to be taught that they aren’t really male or female, that biological sex is meaningless, that they can transition to a different sex than the sex “assigned” to them a birth. And they will be taught this without their parents’ permission.
The board voted 10-1 to instruct children about the daily gay sex pill PrEP, recommended for the “very high risk” behavior of condom-less sex with multiple partners of unknown HIV status. PrEP has a 10% failure rate for preventing HIV infection and even AIDs Health organizations warn against it. But the Fairfax School Board just voted to teach it to every high school student, every year, without their parents’ permission.
The meeting last night was quite revealing. It pitted science against faith and huge dollops of emotion. Guess which side the objecting parents were on? Science. Speaker after speaker among parents invoked science. What was striking about the other side was their almost unbridled emotion, and that so many of them, men and women, wore Roman collars. They accused the parents of bad form for invoking God, but they were the ones in religious garb, and sermonizing.
The parents stuck to science and common sense. Science and common sense tell us that XX and XY chromosomes are distinct. There is no “assigning” about it.
Reverend David Miller of the Unitarian Universalist Church was first to speak. He condemned the parents for invoking God, something they have hardly ever done. They mostly stick to science. Miller said he does not presume to know what God wants, and then proceeded to tell the crowd that God wants radical sex-ed. To underscore his religious appeal, Miller appeared in a Roman collar. If you turn to his church website, Miller appears not in a Roman collar but in a natty button-down shirt with coordinated sporty tie.
That is one of the odd twists in the culture wars these days. As science has increasingly come to the aid of tradition, the hard-left progressives have come to embrace religious imagery and arguments. Last night was just one more vibrant example of the adherent’s zeal with which the left pursues its secularist religion.
The parents stuck to science and common sense. Science and common sense tell us that XX and XY chromosomes are distinct, that different reproductive organs have different and complementary functions. There is no “assigning” about it. It is only by magical thinking and faith that one can see a penis and say “girl.”
The crowd got quite rowdy last night. One does not often see suburban moms shout out at a meeting. But they were reacting to the truly strange and offensive things said by this radical school board.
One of the issues was abstinence. The current curriculum includes the topic of abstinence only because state law mandates it, but the Fairfax bureaucrats have done everything in their power to diminish this central concept.
Currently the 8th grade abstinence lesson does not talk about abstinence until marriage, but until you move onto your next steady sex partner. The word marriage does not appear even once.
Until last night, lessons said “abstinence is the only 100% method to prevent STIs.” Now that clear statement is gone. When one school official tried to defend the change by saying, “well, there are other ways sexually transmitted infections can be transmitted, like through breast milk,” the crowd hooted her down. “For 15 year olds?,” one mom shouted. They’re tired of being played for fools by this board.
There are very serious problems with the process, including an almost complete lack of transparency and the absence of input from parents. The sex-ed curriculum advisory committee that is responsible for drafting the lessons is supposed to be made up of stakeholders, namely parents. Any curriculum it devises must reflect “broad-based community involvement.” These are mandates from the Virginia Department of Education.
But the almost 40-member committee is made up mostly of people on the county payroll, not parents. There are even 4 high school students on the committee. These are voting members, including one 9th grader in braces.
Disregarding Public Comments
This committee creates the sex-ed lessons for all children, but they don’t want the children’s parents to know how they voted. In February, the sex-ed advisors formally decided that their votes would be anonymous.
Board member Elizabeth Schultz said that other advisory committees, on less contentious matters, actually meet with parents and get their input. This one never did.
The school board did open the proposed changes for public comment, and then promptly ignored the comments. Why? Because overwhelmingly, in some cases unanimously, the public opposed the changes.
According to a tally sheet published two days before the vote, the school board received 1,300 comments, a record-breaking number for the school district. 83% of the comments opposed removing “biological sex” and replacing it with “sex assigned at birth.” 83% opposed instructing kids on PrEP. 100% opposed removing “abstinence is the only 100% effective method to prevent STIs.”
One disturbing trend in this now months-long debate is an animus to religious believers. The board’s hand-picked sex-ed curriculum advisors even recommended that “clergy” be excluded from the list of trusted adults a student might turn to in case of sexual confusion. 100% of the public comments opposed removing “clergy,” and the school board ultimately rejected this recommendation.
Board Member Tom Wilson made a motion that schools should be required to obtain written permission before exposing students to this kind of sex-ed. But the majority of the board was having none of that. Board member Pat Hynes said it would be too much of an administrative burden, and the parents in the audience erupted with yells. One mom stood and shouted, “You require it for field trips!” She was ignored. Board member Elizabeth Schultz ran down a long list of things kids need permission slips for, course selections, prescription medication, even music class. You need your mom’s permission to learn the oboe but not to learn about oral sex.
And so, in the fall, the kids in Fairfax County Schools will learn all manner of radical and even dangerous ideas, and their parents will be none the wiser.
- DRANESVILLE Chairman, Jane K. Strauss — (571)-423-1087 email@example.com
- MASON Vice Chair, Sandy S. Evans — (571)-423-1083 firstname.lastname@example.org
- HUNTER MILL Chairman, Pat M. Hynes — (571)-423-1082 email@example.com
- PROVIDENCE, Dalia A. Palchik — (571)-423-1070 firstname.lastname@example.org
- MOUNT VERNON, Karen L. Corbett Sanders — (571)-423-1086 email@example.com
- LEE, Tamara Derenak Kaufax — (571)-423-1081 firstname.lastname@example.org
- BRADDOCK, Megan O. McLaughlin — (571)-423-1088 email@example.com
- AT LARGE, Karen Keys-Gamarra — (571)-423-1091 Karen.KeysGamarra@fcps.edu
- AT LARGE, Ryan L. McElveen — (571)-423-1089 Ryan.McElveen@fcps.edu
- AT LARGE, Ilryong Moon — (571)-423-1090 firstname.lastname@example.org