I’m a physician and have lived in this town for over 25 years. I treated folks of all ages, so I feel I can offer some input into our recent Battle Ground School Board decision to reject teaching any sex education except for the state mandated units on HIV and AIDS prevention.
Here’s what you missed if you haven’t attended the school board meetings over the past year. Our school district has been deciding whether to teach high school kids about sex. Keep in mind that the proposed curriculum had an option where a parent could opt out of selected chapters (and take their child out of class for that day).
Here’s what the opposition, many from Vancouver, said:
“Sex education leads to promiscuity which leads to criminality which leads to insanity”.
“This sex education program is obviously a Satanic effort”.
“Teaching sex ed normalizes behaviors. We don’t want our kids to know about gay people. By teaching them, you make them become gay.”
“You say it’s just high school kids now — but I know you’ll want to expand it till we’re teaching sex ed in kindergarten!”
And finally: “If you adopt this sex ed program, we’ll vote down any future school levy.”
Let me be clear, this was not just about teaching about the LGBTQ community (though the opposition totally did not want that), and it was not just about teaching kids about birth control (which they also oppose). The opposition was about teaching anything at all about consent, preventing yourself from assault, or even how babies are made! They oppose all things sex. In 2019. I think they want anatomy teachers to just skip anything between the belly button and the knees.
Let’s also be clear about this — many of the opposition didn’t even live in our town or have kids in our schools!
So the school board caved, scared especially by the levy threats, though many in the audience I recognized as writers to this very paper who consistently oppose levies every time anyway. The school board voted down not only the FLASH program (which was an expanded program) but all sex education except the minimal amount which the state requires. (And folks in the audience opposed that as well.)
So basically, science has lost and religious threats have won. I can assume that this means that any religious group, if they get loud enough, can pack the meetings and threaten the levies, then get whatever they want. So come on in! Any group! Let’s ditch mathematics especially for girls, as it makes them want to go to college and not get married. Let’s throw out astronomy because it threatens our idea of heaven! Heck, let’s throw out medical training — it just makes people doubt the inherent healing strength of God!
So this is our town, a town where if we stick our heads deep enough in the sand, the kids just won’t have sex. They’ll never get pregnant unexpectedly, never get an STD, never learn that all kids (gay, straight or in between) are God’s children.
I respect everyone’s right to follow their own religion, but I don’t appreciate it when they insist that everyone else follow their beliefs — and when they downright suppress scientific knowledge using mob tactics. Our school board should have done better. Remember these names: Rob Hendrickson, Monty Anderson and Tina Lambert. These three voted to skip the science and go with the idea that “if you don’t teach it, it will go away.” They did your kids a disservice and should be voted out. And to all our local parents who aren’t part of the groups bused in from Vancouver to oppose this, I know you’re busy with work and kids, but please watch for these school board meetings, look up the agenda and try to show up to represent reason and science.
Elizabeth Lee, MD