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It happened in Tennessee, but it could have easily happened in parts of Orange County. Let’s season this past week’s discussion of education policy with a heavy helping of sex!
I’ll give you the first four paragraphs of the story, but then go check out the lurid details yourselves.
In the wake of April’s controversial talk by abstinence-only speaker Pam Stenzel, another controversy emerged in Tennessee, where a student recorded a sex ed presentation that included biased and inaccurate information. The presentation was given by Joi Wasill, founder of the nonprofit Decisions, Choices and Options, and Beth Cox, a member of the Sumner County School Board who serves as a presenter for Wasill’s organization. Cox also has ties to the Republican Party in the state, having served on Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2010 campaign and as a delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention. Wasill, a former marketing teacher at a nearby high school, told a radio show in 2009 that she founded her organization after God spoke to her through one of the radio show’s guests, urging her to promote the “pro-life” beliefs she’d always held.
The presentation included many familiar abstinence-only tropes, inaccuracies about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), abortion, and infertility, and biases that I suppose are not surprising given the organization’s goal to promote anti-choice beliefs. Even after a Vanderbilt University physician listened to the tapes and declared the presentation not entirely accurate, Wasill stood behind what they had said, telling USA Today, “I’m an educator. Just as with any educator, my personal opinions and personal faith do not come out in my presentation.” I also am an educator, and I can acknowledge that as much as I try to keep my beliefs out of it, that’s not always possible. More to the point, however, the quotes simply speak for themselves.
The principal of the school simply brushed aside the inaccuracies that his students heard and told USA Today, “Fortunately, I believe the Hillsboro High School kids are smart enough to separate fact from fiction and that some of the opinions and scare tactics used in the presentation they will know are incorrect.”
Stop. We interrupt this program for a special announcement. Read that again.
Is there anyone here who believes that a principal who holds that view of a health education talk to students should not be fired immediately? Anyone here want to defend it? OK, back to the story.
It shouldn’t be a high school student’s job to weed through the crap and tease out the truth in any given presentation. I mean, does he expect his students to do this in a physics or calculus class? Plus, no matter how smart the kids at Hillsboro are, I don’t know if they will be able to tell fact from fiction in this case. I listened to the tapes, and the presenters were quite convincing—flat out wrong, but quite convincing. I’m sure there are some adults out there who would buy this presentation hook, line, and sinker.
Maybe we can all agree on this. I hope so. Again, check out the rest of the article.