In an effort to carry even more water for the religious right, the GOP has declared war on sex education.
A resolution to make all sex-ed courses “opt-in” was passed unanimously last week by the Republican National Committee. The resolution wants to make parents affirmatively agree to having their kids attend the classes, instead of having parents with objections pull their children from the classes.
Why would parents want to do that?
It’s not just that classes talk about biology. It’s because they acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people. In the apparent belief that knowledge is contagious, proponents of the measure believe that telling kids about LGBTQ people will actually make them queer.
The resolution daintily refers to “contentious” issues like “sexual orientation, transgenderism and/or sexual identity” but once you know who’s behind it, the real reason is phobia, pure and simple.
The resolution is the brainchild of Cynthia Dunbar, who worked at Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University and was the Virginia state chair of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. Dunbar has condemned homosexuality as “the prevention of the seed” and has said that sending children to public school is “throwing them into the enemy’s flames.”
The resolution is a personal consolation prize for Dunbar. She lost the Republican nomination for a Congressional seat last May, following a wild campaign in which another candidate claimed she called him “a flamboyant gay, a communist, a socialist…and a democrat plant.”
Of course, none of this disqualifies Dunbar from having an influential role in the GOP as a national committee member. And all of this makes Dunbar a hero to the religious right. Tony Perkins of the hate group Family Research Council praised the GOP vote as “a landmark resolution.”
The resolution has no binding effect, but it is a blueprint for Republican-controlled state legislatures. “I’m hopeful that a lot of state legislative bodies will take this resolution and run with it and use it as impetus to pass legislation to require this of all school districts,” Dunbar told Perkins.
The right-wing Liberty Council has already targeted Indiana as a test case. In a letter to the state superintendent of instruction, attorney Mary McAllister cites a state law that took effect this month that requires school districts to inform parents about the content of sex ed classes and provide two written requests for parents to consent or opt-out.
McAllister cite a long list of details that she insists parents must be told about including anything that remotely touches upon LGBTQ issues, including “Any advertisement of or participation in any group, organization, extracurricular club, entity or activity that discusses or addresses sexual activity, sexual orientation or gender identity, whether under the guise of ‘bullying’ or other rationale.” In the past, McAllister has called sex ed “satanic.”
Liberty Council has produced a handy form for parents to have their children opt-out of sex ed classes. The form expresses the parents’ wish to keep their children ignorant about anything related to LGBTQ issues, echoing the exhaustive list in McAllister’s letter.
The religious right has been on a tear about sex ed for a while now, finding it a handy issue for fundraising. Fortunately, they now have a willing partner in one of the two major political parties.