The Concerned Parents attended the Austin ISD board meeting on October 29 to address two key issues to the school Board: 1) sex ed curricula that is inconsistent with settled science regarding biological sex; and 2) sex ed lessons on "what is abstinence" that violate Texas education code.
Regarding the first point, the current and proposed sexual education uses the terms "person with a vagina" and "person with a penis" rather than male and female. This is despite the fact that, biologically, males have male genitalia and females have female genitalia. The terms male and female were only recently redefined by social activists, and this is now being integrated into academic curricula, despite being inaccurate, confusing, and non-scientific. The fact is that all people will always be, biologically speaking, the sex of their birth, just by nature of their genes, and transgenderism is a disorder whereby a person cannot accept their biological sex. So why are children being indoctrinated into unscientific gender theory? Academics should not be decided by special interest groups.
As to the second point, we presented a lesson currently being taught in grades six called "Is this Abstinence?" It is part of the Big Decisions comprehensive sex ed curriculum.
The activity instructions for this lesson has the facilitator cut up 20 squares of paper to be given to the students who then discuss and decide which activities represent abstinence and which ones do not. The squares describe various activities including “oral sex (mouth to genitals)” and "anal sex (penis to anus).” Not only is the information given to students, it is given to sixth grade students — eleven-year-olds. Not only is it presented to them, they have to discuss the activities among themselves. Mouth to genitals? Penis to anus? Since it is forbidden to limit conversation about anything sexual as long as no one makes fun of somebody, these little children can talk about putting a mouth on a penis or a vagina, or sticking a penis in an anus or a vagina. If an audio recording was made of them talking about putting mouths on genitals and putting a penis in an anus, it could be punishable as child pornography. As it is, exposing children to those activities and forcing them them to talk about them is child sexual abuse.
At the meeting, Board member Ann Teich was asked by Superintendent Cruz if the information above was given to students. Instead of asking Ms. Ayala who was still at the meeting, Mrs. Teich made the statement that because the material was for the facilitator, the information was not given to students, and that this needed to be clarified for the public. To clarify for the Board, the information is given TO students BY the facilitator in sixth grade and grades nine-through-twelve.
Sadly (but not surprisingly), “the public” was misinformed again.
This was a historic meeting considering that it may the first time the AISD SHAC has actually attempted to follow Texas Education Code 28.004, the law that details the SHAC requirements.
Here are some highlights:
*The American Association of Health Education, the American School Health Association, the National Education Association – Health Information Network, the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, Advocates for Youth, Answer, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The “advisory committee” and list of “additional reviewers” includes two representatives from Planned Parenthood, a representative from Planned Parenthood’s former research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, and the director of training and curriculum development for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
**The instruction must:
1. Present abstinence as the preferred choice of behavior for unmarried persons of school age;
2. Devote more attention to abstinence than to any other behavior;
3. Emphasize that abstinence is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmit- ted diseases, infection with HIV or AIDS, and the emotional trauma associated with adolescent sexual activity;
4. Direct adolescents to a standard of behavior in which abstinence before marriage is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and infection with HIV or AIDS; and
5. Teach contraception and condom use in terms of human use reality rates instead of theoretical laboratory rates, if instruction on contraception and condoms is included in the curriculum.
Texas Education Code 28.004(e)
Here’s what a visitor can expect to see per the new SHAC rules:
One community member (non-SHAC) shared the following comments/questions:
++ What is the goal of sex ed in AISD? How does a new curriculum help meet that goal better than what is in place now? By teaching consent to underage children, does the district feel that elementary aged children are developmentally ready to provide consent to sexual activity? How will you teach children about predators, which are the cause of childhood sexual abuse? How will you ensure that victims of childhood sexual abuse are not receiving the message that if they’d known better, then the abuse would not have occurred? Why is sex ed a high priority for elementary education when it is beyond the scope of TEKS? It is my understanding that the resource being used to write the new human sexuality is free. Where would I find the cost analysis of how much this time and training the new curriculum will cost the district? Why are additional resources and time being spent on human sexuality when the district has the very real heavy burden put on it by the federal government to rectify its lack of special education services?
The June 6th AISD SHAC meeting was well attended by parents and community members both for and against the introduction of comprehensive sex education starting in kindergarten. This was despite the fact that the SHAC did not publicly communicate via its Facebook page that the sex ed curriculum would be discussed or voted on. This is interesting because instead they announced they would be discussing Youth Services Mapping, despite knowing that sex ed is a hot button topic and many are interested. Hmm, it seems they did not want community participation on this issue. But they got it! Many people showed up and the comments were streamed live on the Texas Values Facebook page. Videos here.
Here are the highlights of the meeting.
When it came to public commentary, three petitions were presented to the SHAC.
Many people from the community came out to speak during the public comment time at the end of the meeting, including:
In the end, it seemed that the sex ed recommendation by the SHAC was a done deal from the beginning. Despite ourselves and other parents having voice opposition to this curriculum over the past year, including discussing its basis in fraudulent and abusive Kinsey “science”, no changes have been made and the SHAC adopted the 3R’s scope and sequence verbatim. It is also amazing that more than a year after the SHAC initially voted to approve the use of the 3Rs as a resource, not a single lesson has been written?
Regarding the May 23rd focus group, many parents who were in attendance noted that their comments and questions went unanswered and apparently were not included in the SHAC’s considerations. There are a number of issues here: lack of transparency in the process, lack of consideration of parent concerns, lack of communication with parents regarding the content or proposed content of the sex education, many of the “informed parents’ were invited to the focus group, but dissenting parents who had given comments to the SHAC were not invited – why?, no presence and input from minority-majority campuses. It seems that the SHAC is intent on passing through this curriculum regardless of any concerns and without full stakeholder input and involvement. Why?
Parents around the country are rejecting this very same curriculum because it is extreme, it is graphic, it is politically biased, and it has an agenda of sexualizing our children and promoting early sexual activity, LGBT experimentation, contraception use, and abortion.
See our review of the 3R’s curriculum here.
At this past Wednesday's SHAC meeeting, I expected to hear a presentation on the new sex ed program that AISD is developing based the "3R’s" program from Advocates For Youth. Instead, Michele Rusnak announced that they are first going to form some kind of focus group of parents to get more input from the community. The meeting date is TBA but will happen sometime this month (May) and will be promoted through the campus PTAs. It was unclear whether specific parents will be invited or whether an open invitation will be provided to all.
But here’s the thing: I taught for the last 9 years at a school campus that had virtually no PTA. In spite of a great deal of hard work on the part of teachers and administrators to formulate a parent-led PTA, it ended up being the teachers, administrators and a parent support specialist who carried most of the weight. And even after nine years, we still did not have a fully functioning PTA. I wonder how many AISD campuses are like my former school in that regard,.
So, how will the district ensure that “All Are Welcome” to these focus groups? As I stated above, not all campuses have thriving parent-teacher organizations. But I can tell you this, PTA or not, there are at least a few parents who send meals during Teacher Appreciation week, attend Parent Teacher Conferences and take off from work to see their children's performances. So, if the SHAC really wants to hear from all parents and promote diversity, they are going to have to seek out these dedicated and involved parents and simply sign them up to come as representatives for their school community. The parents must be allowed to provide their opinions without censure. Then see what happens. And like one SHAC member mentioned, to have diversity, they need to “have translators”, probably for more than just Spanish. But with about a 1/3 of AISD students being Hispanic, it’s absolutely necessary that Spanish speakers be accommodated.
At this point, I see this effort to gain parental input as a step in a positive direction, provided they do the following.
The following is the information I shared with the SHAC during public comments:
1. A list of some of the core philosophies upon which CSE (Comprehensive Sex Ed) programs are based. (For middle and high school, AISD uses Big Decisions, a CSE program that is marketed as "abstinence plus." The "3R's" program intended to be used for K-5 is also a CSE program. (Click here for Big Decisions Curriculum Evaluation)
2. The Texas Code 28.004. The state guidelines for SHACs (click here complete document) state that te board of trustees of each school district shall establish a local school health advisory council to assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district’s health education program. This includes [my comments in brackets]:
- appropriate grade levels and methods of instruction for human sexuality instruction,
[ “Who decides what’s appropriate?”]
- A majority of the members must be persons who are parents of students enrolled in the district and who are not employed by the district.
- Present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age.
[Most CSE programs only state this ONCE in order to meet state requirements, then spend the rest of the time talking about how to have sex]
These are just a few excerpts of state law when it comes to human sexuality education.
3, You’re Teaching My Child What? By Dr. Miriam Grossman – I gave each parent of copy of the front cover. If you really want to know where to begin learning what the big fuss is all about, start with this book.
Also (IMPORTANT): Call your child’s school and tell them you want to sign up to be on the new Human Sexuality Curriculum focus group to give them parental feedback, and take the Texas Code 28.0004 with you.
KXAN did a story on the Sex Ed Sit Out Protest here in Austin that was highly misleading. The report makes it seem like we are opposed to programs like LifeGuard, which stress abstinence as the best choice and how to avoid risk altogether. It was also reported that LifeGuard is a provider for Austin ISD. Not true!
The truth is that LifeGuard was removed from the district around 2009 because AISD, under influence from Planned Parenthood, decided to implement comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) instead. Now AISD is introducing a program based on Advocates for Youth's 3R's in kindergarten and it goes way beyond "friendships and anti-bullying", introducing sexual imagery and topics (discussing genitalia) as well as LGBT issues. It later goes on to teach about giving consent to sexual contact. The middle and high school programs use curricula that encourage sexual activity, based solely off whether consent is given.
It should be known that we would support having LifeGuard brought back to AISD. LifeGuard teaches sexual risk AVOIDANCE, while the comprehensive sexuality education offered by AISD in grades K-12 teaches sexual risk REDUCTION. All other risky activities (e.g. drug and alcohol use) are taught using an avoidance approach, but not sex ed. Why? Would parents be okay with their kids being given clean needles just so they can shoot up 'safely'? With the prevalance of STDs today, kids are risking their future health and fertility, even when using condoms. Not to mention the negative emotional and psychological effects that come with early sexual activity. This is the reason parents are protesting.
Of course, none of this was mentioned in the report. #FakeNews
This month’s meeting was sparsely attended but included a thorough report and presentation by the food services dept. of the District. Once again, the speaker was engaging, knowledgeable and clearly explained the dept.'s current accomplishments. The report included graphs, initiatives, and goals for further
Has this type of effort to present relevant information and quantifiable results been made by the District concerning Sex Ed? Why the push to start sex education in grades K-5? Are there a host of elementary school children engaged in sexual activity? What is going on?
I shared with the group that the "3R’s," the same program that AISD has used to model its own program after for elementary model, teaches anal and oral sex and the use of dental dams in its middle and high school curriculum (download file linked below for specific examples of what the 3R's teaches)
The program for 12-18-year-olds is simply a continuation of the elementary school curriculum, so can we assume that the elementary program is preparing the youngest students to receive this type of information later? Is that why students in K-5 are being desensitized to talking about their genitals openly and in detail, and being taught how to consent to sexual touch? Is the program being used in K-5 an open door to even more graphic and explicit content in later years?
I shared the following Center for Disease Control statistics on STI’s and condom success rates, as reported by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health here in Austin.
A nurse from the Medical Institute was present at the SHAC and distributed pamphlets regarding the success rates of condoms based on actual (not ideal) usage. Our kids need to be aware that condoms do not provide adequate protection from many of the diseases out there, and they are still taking significant risk, even when being "safe." She has reached out to school nurses at AISD to make sure accurate medical information is available to the students.
After the meeting, I was approached and told the following by Michelle Rusnak, the person in charge of the new sex ed.
1. AISD does not teach anal and oral sex.
2. Big Decisions, the program that is used for older students, is hardly used and is not the current 2016 version that includes, homosexuality, transgenderism and LGBTQ.
3. Anyone can walk onto a campus and look at the curriculum.
4. AISD has always had sex ed in grades PK-12 . But when I asked her which grades were taught sex ed, she confirmed that they only did the puberty talk in 5th to date.
5. AISD is following guidelines by implementing the new sex ed.
These are the questions I asked her:
1. Was sex ed taught in K, 1, 2, etc? No, no, no, the puberty talk in 5th .
2. What guidelines are being followed? No response.
3. Why hasn’t the district been transparent about the curriculum? Well, now it will be out.
4. Will the curriculum be available for an extended period of time for parents to view? Yes.
I will be looking into all the information that was shared with me and will share my findings.
On January 22, 2018, a few Concerned Parents attended the AISD Board meeting to make public comments about pornographic books available in the library as well as about a handout provided by Planned Parenthood to middle school students that included a link to adult-natured videos about how to consent to sex. Amazingly, a Board member accused us of lying about the Planned Parenthood handout. Here is a recap by Caryl:
"I attended my first AISD Board meeting on Monday, January 22, along with a few friends. I waited nervously until it was time for public comments. My whole purpose for being there was to share that Planned Parenthood had passed out material to minor children concerning consenting for sex. These were not just suggestions to access videos of couples consenting for sex and how to do it, but the handout also included encouragement to make an appointment at a Planned Parenthood clinic and that insurance is accepted. Kids can’t even take Tylenol without parental consent at school! Here’s what I read to the board:
Hello, my name is Caryl Ayala and I taught for AISD for 11 years, from 2007 to 2016. This is a copy of a PP Fact Sheet that was passed out this past spring 2017 at Covington Middle School in S Austin, without parental consent. Please note the highlighted phrase. Once you go to the PP Consent Video Series you will see Youtube videos of the following: lesbian, gay and heterosexual adults
getting ready for sexual intercourse, kissing and undressing each other. The narrator makes the following comments: “Sex is about connection and pleasure.” “Asking for consent can be kinda sexy.” “We all deserve a safe, pleasurable and awesome sex life.”
My comments for you as educational gatekeepers are these.
This behavior on the part of Yasmin Wagner was outrageous, because she immediately defended Planned Parenthood without even getting the facts. None of the other board members commented, although one board member was very concerned about the pornographic book available and asked that the SHAC look into the issue.
So, in response, I wrote the Board a letter (click here) with screenshots of the adult content on the Planned Parenthood website directed at kids, as well as asking for an apology for the accusation of lying. After a follow-up email, I received a response from Terrence Eaton, Associate Supt. For Middle Schools, stating that the materials were indeed passed out and stating that the situation was rectified (click here for his response). If it wasn't inappropriate, there would have been nothing to rectify, but it was clear that AISD leadership agrees that Planned Parenthood materials should not have been distributed to children.
I have heard nothing back from Yasmin Wagner. I can't help but wonder why an AISD board member would immediately dismiss the concerns of a concerned citizen in order to praise Planned Parenthood, without even looking into the issue. It makes you wonder how connected Planned Parenthood and the AISD Board are.
This month someone from the AISD finance department gave a presentation on how the district stands financially and how it is basically experiencing a $30 million deficit. My teacher radar was all over it - tables, bar graphs, pie graphs, etc. - a visual learners dream! This is how the district decides what programs it keeps, by how much bang they get for their buck.
So my question is ... why did the SHAC decide to start providing sex ed in kindergarten? Did they first a do an analysis to determine that the program was needed? Where is the data? If there is, please share that data with parents.
A number of parents made comments at this meeting, and covered the following topics:
Afterwards, I had a conversation with a school board member. It was very encouraging. She expressed to me that since parents were coming and making comments, the meetings were now more balanced in terms of viewoints. She encouraged me send her any material and findings that I felt would speak to our concerns.
So, I would like to personally thank all the parents and concerned citizens who have come to share at the SHAC meetings.
YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
Two AISD police officers gave an interesting presentation concerning campus mental health calls to police related to hurting others and oneself, among other issues. They also touched on the devastating effects of social media on interpersonal relationships and how it is interfering with learning. They shared data showing that mental health incidents are on the rise and will surpass last year’s numbers. One of the officers shared that parents are clueless as to what their children are doing on social media and are demanding that the schools intervene. He mentioned that there was only so much they could do.
I find this particularly puzzling as a former teacher and parent. Since they are working with the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) department, why aren’t these issues improving? The district requires spaces where students can de-stress in classrooms, such as mindfulness rooms on some campuses, where they conduct yoga and meditation (teachers use the app CALM). SEL also teaches character education via the Second Step curriculum and affirms all types of sexual behavior under the banner of anti-bullying. So, after listening to all the stats it was awkward to hear Julie Cowan (a board member) interject a recommendation to have dinner with your kids nightly. Wow! What a concept! Parents getting involved and taking responsibility for their kids’ actions. I spent the last 7 of my years as a teacher for AISD mentoring parents to advocate and take responsibility for their kids’ education and behavior. Every time they did just that, their kids would improve in all areas.
Three concerned parents shared the following.
Even after several concerned parents and local residents have shared with the committee about their families' values concerning the innocence and purity of their children, the SHAC members provided an invitation to a conference sponsored by PLANNED PARENTHOOD that targets all children and emphasizes reaching Hispanics and students with intellectual disabilities to teach them about sex. Click here for handout. Check out what the district is promoting and supporting when it comes to educating your children.
FYI – Michelle Rusnak, who is in charge of the sex ed curriculum announced that the district is moving forward with the sex ed program starting in Kinder (PK). No word yet on how much of Advocates for Youth's curriculum will be adopted.