When did your local schools last revise their sex education program? Let me cut to the chase. Omaha Public Schools has not revised its sex education and related health classes for 30 years.
Bad enough that it fails to address modern issues such as “sexting” and bullying over sexual orientation and gender identity, the curriculum goes back to a time where 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 (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 local parent attitudes on the different subjects. The last slide dealt with sexual orientation and it threw the 70% of the audience that was homophobic into a booing frenzy. Civil discussion from that point on was impossible, as screaming and shouting became the mob’s choice of expression.
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, not the school board’s to determine how that “purity” might get disrupted. It was unclear what part of “these classes are not mandatory” that she did 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”, Ms. Rabuck on the video, shot by Ms. Hunt, went viral.
The attention it 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, physically touching them and speaking to them in their faces. She focused on one young woman in particular before group advisor, Billie Mari Grant, interceded. Billie talked about her interaction with the young woman after the homophobic woman was shooed away. “I had not met her before last night. My relationship with her is still the very surface level. I went over and knelt 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 hatred.
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, let alone be something in which to participate.
You abused LGBT kids. Specifically, that night, you were responsible for traumatizing them and attempting to demoralize them. If you had gotten your way, that bullying would have led to self-harm or other unhealthy behavior. To say you were irresponsible to them is an understatement.
That damage is comparatively minor to the other children you harmed, however. Those harmed kids are your own.
Many of those kids are being lead by you on a path of ignorance and determination to batter those they do not understand. You are committing them to never understanding. They are the luckier of the harmed kids you affect, however.
The unluckiest ones of all are your own LGBT kids. The ones you don’t know are LGBT yet. In your number, statistically speaking, there are likely at least 21 who will identify as gay or lesbian. There are several hundred who will identify as something other than straight. All of them will suffer from the hatred you express.
There will come a day where you will wonder where a destructive act, a series of depressions, a suicide comes from. I’m going to tell you now: It came from you and your attitude on this night, and presumably every night.
It may be Pure-something, but it is not love. As a dad, for me, there would be nothing worse that 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 the very public Deanna Rabuck who screamed about her desire to keep her daughters innocent. She stated later, “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 with her. I am a dad to two incredible boys, twelve and thirteen years old. I fight to keep them innocent. They ARE innocent. I teach them the right things at the age appropriate times.
They are also the sons of a gay dad who adopted them from fostercare after their birth parents almost inadvertently killed them by means of drug contaminated lives. Those are facts, none of which have taken away from the innocence of my sons.
Children from LGBT families are pure, they are innocent. Children who are themselves LGBT are equally as innocent. All children need to be respected. You teaching your kids to disrespect mine is not “purity” and it is not acceptable.
They all need information about who they are, and what will be happening to them. They need to know about the people around them so we can understand each other.
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.
The fact that you somehow find something “impure” in acknowledging LGBT lives indicates that instead of asking your school board to exempt your kids from this curriculum, you may want to ask to take it with them.
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 pure sorrow is not what I would wish on anyone, especially on those who deep down, really 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 are LGBT. I don’t ask for “purity”, but another “-ity” entirely.
Dignity. That’s what you should be shouting about.