[Caution to readers: this article deals with sexual topics using explicit terminology.]
"Helena is a virtual playground for you and your family," reports one tourist website. (http://www.gohelena.com/)
But some parents raising families in Montana’s capital city are concerned about what will be discussed on the actual playgrounds of the city’s schools, if a radical new sex education curriculum is adopted by the Helena school district.
The new lessons would teach kindergarteners the names of male and female sex organs, but one mother said, "My 5-year-old girl has no need to understand the scrotum or testicles at this point."
First graders would begin to learn about homosexuality by being taught that "human beings can love people of the same gender & people of another gender." That’s true in a literal sense—boys love their fathers and grandfathers, for instance. But since first graders always prefer the company of their own sex, it makes no sense to plant the idea that this might mean they are "gay."
Second graders would be taught not to use anti-gay slurs like "homo," "fag," and "queer"—even if the lesson is the first time they have heard those words.
Fourth graders would be taught that illegal "sexual harassment" can include teasing and taunting. Encouraging kindness and discouraging bullying is worthwhile, but I’m not sure putting children in fear of jail is the best way to accomplish it.
All that is mild compared to what hits in the fifth grade, when children would be taught that sexual intercourse includes "vaginal, oral, or anal penetration." This goes even beyond what the sexual revolutionaries at SIECUS (the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States)and Planned Parenthood recommend in their "Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education," upon which the Helena curriculum is ostensibly based. SIECUS does not introduce their sexual trinity until middle school, and only uses the word "penetration" in its definition of rape. And in 6th grade, Helena would elaborate that creative people can have intercourse using the "fingers, tongue, or objects"—details not found in the SIECUS guidelines.
The rationale behind this approach seems to be that some children may experience these behaviors, so all need to be prepared. That doesn’t answer the concern that such lessons may plant ideas in young heads that would not have been there otherwise—thus making them counter-productive. One recent survey of urban seventh graders found that 88% had no experience with any of these behaviors – so why they should be introduced to 100% of fifth graders in Helena, Mont., is a complete mystery.
Also unclear is whether the lessons will fully explain the risks of the three forms of "intercourse." Will students be warned that people can contract sexually transmitted diseases in the mouth and throat through oral sex? Will they be told that the risks of contracting HIV through receptive anal sex are ten times higher than the risks of insertive vaginal sex? While Helena’s curriculum is too explicit in many ways, it may not be explicit enough about some politically incorrect truths.
Meanwhile, the curriculum would also teach sixth graders about sex changes, and high schoolers would be taught to "understand erotic images in art."
How will this curriculum be implemented? According to the local paper, they may "hire an instructional health coach using stimulus money." Perhaps innocence-destroying sex-ed is a program that’s too perverse to fail.
Citizens were shocked when the proposed curriculum was unveiled in June, and got their first chance to express their outrage directly to the school system’s Board of Trustees on July 13.
About 300 citizens turned out, filling the meeting room and an overflow room and spilling out onto the street. According to observers, at least 75%-80% of the crowd was firmly opposed to the proposed curriculum. When the school staffer who oversaw the development of the curriculum, Teresa Burson, declared, "We did this with family values in mind," the crowd openly jeered.
On an issue that is so sensitive as human sexuality, and so caught up with people’s individual moral values, parents have an inherent right to be the first to discuss such topics with their children. But I’m convinced that even liberal parents-who favor, for example, contraceptive-based education over a pure abstinence message-are unlikely to want these topics introduced as early as they are in this curriculum. The government should not put itself between parents and their children in this way.
Helena’s main street is called "Last Chance Gulch," after the story of discouraged miners who decided to take one last chance—and struck gold. One hopes that when the school Trustees vote on this curriculum in August, they will take advantage of their last chance for sanity to prevail, and reject this curriculum.