See if this educational goal for first-graders offends you:
“Understand human beings can love people of the same gender & people of another gender.”
That’s from the new health curriculum put forward by the Helena, Montana, school board. This and other sex education goals in the school district’s 62-page plan have stirred up the fury of certain parents and churches.
Opponents vehemently object to any parts of the plan that show gays and lesbians as human beings—and not just the goal noted above. Second-graders would learn that it is wrong to taunt someone with terms like “gay,” “fag,” and “homo.” Fifth-graders would learn that a person’s physical attraction to others—regardless of gender—is “one part of ones’ personality.”
Not all the opponents’ objections are LGBT-related. Many parents are queasy about the biological issues in the plan. For instance, the new curriculum calls for teachers to explain anatomical terms such as penis and vagina to kindergartners. And fifth-graders would be taught that sexual intercourse includes “vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.”
Intelligent people can disagree about the timing of such sensitive information. That debate is understandable. What’s not understandable is that right-wing media have zeroed in on many of the common sense LGBT-related goals in the curriculum and used them for gay-bashing.
The most effective response to this is for people in Montana to show their support for the plan by contacting school board members and the district’s curriculum director at firstname.lastname@example.org. All educators who have a background in LGBT-related curriculum should also chime in. People can submit op-ed pieces and letters to the local newspaper, the Helena Independent Record, at email@example.com.
The outcry from critics has been so great that the school board recently voted to revise the health curriculum. What will that revision look like? Good question. It will be presented to the board on September 14. There will be another public meeting on the subject followed by a final school board vote in October. So there’s still plenty of time to shape the revised plan and influence the school board's vote.