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Gay Slurs, Erotic Art: Sex Ed and Christianity in Montana

Written by Elizabeth Toledo for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Gay slurs and erotic art.

These, apparently, are fighting words.  Educators in Helena, Montana are trying to stop elementary school kids from hurling hateful epitaphs at one another, and they’d like to use erotic art to help older teens learn about sex and relationships. This and more has local residents like Pastor Rick DeMato calling local educators ungodly, and claiming that the local school district has “been taken over by those in high places that wish to eradicate Christian morals in America.” More on the thinly veiled Obama attack later.

This new proposed curriculum is now fast becoming national news, largely the result of exaggerated claims, and opponents of sex education have succeeded in forcing a new review of the content at a hearing next month.

For example, kindergartners would learn that “family structures differ.” That prompted Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council to claim on Fox News that the proposed curriculum would, among other things, “teach first graders they might be homosexual.”  Author and educator Logan Levkoff shot back on Fox, saying, “This program is not teaching first graders if they are gay.  They are saying there are a lot of different kinds of families out there.  Some have a Mom and Dad, some have two Moms, two Dads, a single parent, all different kinds of family makeups…”.

Helena, Montana is just the latest community embroiled in a sex education fight. This summer, opponents in at least two other local communities have pushed back at attempts to provide comprehensive sex education in schools.  In late May, Johnson County, Kansas residents convinced local officials to withdraw a bid for federal funding for comprehensive sex education due to the involvement of Planned Parenthood as one of the participants.  In June, some schools in New Jersey disinvited Planned Parenthood educators from co-teaching sex education classes after some parents objected.

As the Obama administration prepares to announce new federal grants to localities to implement comprehensive sex education, these local flare-ups give us an interesting glimpse of the public discourse on the horizon.  The next set of hearings in Helena, scheduled for August 10, may be a valuable window into how the public discourse will evolve in the nation’s most embattled communities. Read more