Rosy Schmidt, a mother of two spoke in front of the state today and noted her concerns over sex ed. Too graphic, too open and well.. she is concerned about the welfare of our children. Schmidt was speaking to legislation being proposed in Kansas to make all Sex Education optional, as well as providing tools by which to prosecute teachers who violate the standards that the community holds. The legislation which was profiled here
comes in response to a flier posted at Hocker Grove Middle School - a school which I must note my youngest child attends.
The poster, which dealt with expressions of sexual feelings was drawn from a text book and caused uproar within the community by mentioning sex acts to a sex-education classroom.
In 90 minutes of testimony, the panel moved far beyond discussing just sexual education, and began discussion books which may be in school libraries influencing their children. While Hocker Grove Middle School doesn't keep a copy of 50 Shades of Grey on hand, the book was mentioned repeatedly as a real concern that parents have in relation to their children.
The conversation was freewheeling and full of individuals who had great concerns for the way our children learn.. and what they learn.
“I don’t want to ban books. I don’t want to burn books, but I think there is a place for certain things and a place for them not to be,” said Shirley Koehn, who spoke in favor of the bill.
She referenced the 1970 book "The Bluest Eye," by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, as being too explicit for high school readers.
“Quite honestly, I almost threw up, because the descriptions, the feelings, the maneuvers and so on were predatory and those don’t belong on even a high school reading list,” Koehn said of the novel. “Questions about oral and anal sex don’t belong in sex education either.”
The conversation moved to address the realities of teen sexuality and if opt-in learning as a practice, along with potential criminal penalties for content might be an appropriate policy to address concerns.
Kansas Currently has an Opt-Out sexual education policy, in which parents are allowed to ask the school to remove their child from such coursework; the change would mean that middle school and high school students would require a parental notice to "Opt In" and without it they would not be allowed in the coursework.
College students as well as several educators offered a differing opinion on this practice:
Williams, a student at Emporia State University, said the pending legislation threatened to build a barrier between young people and age-appropriate sex education.
“Sex education is better if we have the public education system teach it,” Williams said. “I think it’s sort of a common-sense decision.”
The duo were at the Capitol with students from several other college campuses involved with United for Reproductive and Gender Equity, formerly known as Choice USA. The organization promotes “sexual and reproductive justice” by training and mobilizing leadership around a youth-driven agenda.
Educators noted that conversations with young students often give them a perspective on difficult topics that parents unfortunately neglect.
Four people, including three religious leaders, raised objections about the bill. They concentrated their remarks on the right of students to learn about their bodies and on parents who didn’t fulfill their responsibility to have those discussions.
The Rev. Eleanor McCormick, a pastor from Lawrence, said 68 percent of parents actually talked to their children about sexual matters. Lawmakers should be concerned one-third of students don't benefit from such discussions, she said.