It’s bad enough that it fails to address modern issues such as “sexting” and bullying over sexual orientation and gender identity. The curriculum even goes back to a time when no sitting President had ever even uttered the word “AIDS” publicly.
Updating such archaic content should be a no-brainer. Omaha parents agree. In a survey of 1500 parents, 97% supported almost all of the proposed material. The only drop in support, and still a majority, was in the area of discussing sexual orientations, gender concepts and relationships. In those categories, 25% of the parents were against the information being shared.
What a stink a minority can make, however. They blindsided the members of the group CHEER (Comprehensive Health Education and Equal Responsibility), made up of healthcare professionals, educators, and reproductive rights activists. CHEER members were prepared to vocally support the new curriculum in front of the Omaha Public School board when a thousand angry recruited homophobes descended and took over the meeting. (Their petition is here.)
Nebraskans for Founders Values, Christ Community Church and other mega churches had recruited their supporters to show up brandishing signs, pasting stickers all over the auditorium and yelling out fallacious statements. The claim that “Planned Parenthood had designed the curriculum” was a popular, completely untrue shout-out.
Melissa Tibbits, PhD, gave a presentation about the findings of the study on the attitudes of local parents. The last slide dealt with sexual orientation, which inspired 70% of the audience into a booing frenzy. From that point on, civil discussion was impossible. The mob decided to express itself by screaming and shouting.
Megan Hunt, a CHEER activist, captured one mom, Deanna Rabuck, on phone video. Ms. Rabuck dramatically wailed about the “purity” of her daughters and it was her job to determine how that “purity” might get disrupted. What part of “these classes are not mandatory” did she not understand? She was welcome to keep her kids in ignorance if she chose. She later told the local news station that she “isn’t proud of her outburst.”
Megan Hunt confirmed to me, “The most protested topic, in my estimation, was the inclusion of the LGBT community in the human growth and development curriculum. It’s interesting to me that this seemed to be the biggest point of protest as opposed to the abortion/planned parenthood/contraception issue…
I’m a writer, speaker, and serial entrepreneur. I’m a single mother with a daughter who is 5 and in kindergarten in Omaha Public Schools. Nobody who supports comprehensive sexual education is opposed to a family’s right to teach values to their children. But offering our public school children a curriculum that doesn’t address healthy relationships, consent, and LGBT issues, in addition to public health facts and figures, would not be coming from a place of facts or reason. Our children deserve medically-accurate, research-based information, which is not currently the standard.”
Dubbed “the Purity Mom”, the video of Ms. Rabuck, shot by Ms. Hunt, went viral.
The attention the video received is regrettable in that it overshadowed one of the real atrocities that occurred that night. Seated politely waiting to speak to the school board was a group of LGBT-identified students. As they waited, they were subjected to attack, vitriol and abuse by the homophobic audience members around them. One woman came down to them and confronted them, focusing on one young woman in particular before group advisor Billie Mari Grant interceded.
Billie talked about her interaction with the young woman after she was shooed away. “I had not met her before last night. My relationship with her is still at the very surface level. I went over and knelt in front of her. I asked her if she was done. If she wanted to leave. Without speaking, her face red, eyes welling up with tears, she nodded her head. I asked her if she would like a hug. She nodded her head again. As I hugged her, stroked her hair, telling her that some people were still so ignorant, but that luckily she was a part of a beautiful, accepting, and supportive family.”
The mob around them would not stand for the comfort Billie was administering. “Why is she crying? Oh is she confused?” they screamed at the group of students.
This lead to further confrontation as Billie was accused of turning the students “gay” (none of the students in question identified that way). As a young man came down and became physically threatening, Billie ushered the LGBT students from the auditorium.
Nothing says “purity” as much as pure unadulterated hate.
Here is my letter to the homophobic mob that descended that night:
Dear “Purity Parents”,
I am embarrassed for you. If your behavior was because you see yourself as the ideal parents, I am embarrassed. I am a parent, and I would hope others like me would seek to build worth in children, not tear it down.
If you fashion yourself the ideal Christian, I am embarrassed. I am a Christian, and there was nothing about your behavior that Christ would condone.
You abused LGBT kids. You traumatized them and demoralized them. If you’d had your way, that bullying would have led to self-harm or other unhealthy behavior. To say you were irresponsible is an understatement.
However, that damage is comparatively minor to the other children you harmed. Those harmed kids are your own.
You’re leading many of those kids down a path of ignorance and determination, urging them to batter people that they don’t understand. You’re committing them to a lifetime of ignorance.
The unluckiest ones are your own LGBT kids. The ones you don’t know are LGBT yet. Statistically speaking, there are likely about 21 children who will later identify as gay or lesbian. Several hundred will identify as something other than straight. All of them will suffer from your hatred.
There will come a day when you wonder where a destructive act, a series of depressions, a suicide comes from. I’ll tell you now: It came from you and your attitude on this night, and presumably every night.
This isn’t pure and it isn’t love. There would be nothing worse for me than cradling my dead child. Your action implies that your “nothing worse” would be allowing yourself to question your archaic thought system.
I am not here to criticize Deanna Rabuck, who screamed about her desire to keep her daughters innocent. She later stated, “As we grow, we have things that we are capable of processing and things that we aren’t capable of processing… and protecting the innocence is protecting the things that we aren’t able to process.”
I agree. I’m a dad with two incredible boys who are twelve and thirteen. I fight to keep them innocent. They are innocent. I teach them new things at their appropriate ages.
I adopted them from foster care after their birth parents almost killed them through their drug-addled existence. Those facts haven’t taken the innocence away from my sons.
Children from LGBT families are pure. They’re innocent. Children who themselves are LGBT are innocent. All children need to be respected. Teaching your kids to disrespect mine is not “purity” and it’s not acceptable.
They all need information that will help them discover who they are. They need to know about the people around them who can help them better understand themselves.
Ms. Rabuck, ignorance is not purity. Education can improve the health of our kids, lead them to worthwhile choices and, in many cases, save their lives.
I know of a mother who held out on her son in terms of both understanding him, as well as helping him to understand himself. She realized her mistake as he lie dying in a coma after his suicide attempt. Don’t be that mother.
She received her “purity”, but I wouldn’t wish pure sorrow on anyone, especially on those who genuinely love their kids.
So yes, you want “purity” for your kids. You want to keep them innocent, optimistic, free in spirit.
I want the same thing for my kids, and for kids who are discovering they’re LGBT. I don’t ask for “purity”, but another “-ity” entirely.
Dignity. That’s what you should be shouting about.