Report to Inform Legislators—Organizations, Activists & Plans Set in Motion
Published November 2019
Written by Sylvia Rhodea, Ottawa Impact
Photography by Simply American
“It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children. The public schools of this state serve the needs of the pupils by cooperating with the pupil’s parents and legal guardians to develop the pupil’s intellectual capabilities and vocational skills in a safe and positive manner.”
MICHIGAN REVISED SCHOOL CODE
380.10 Rights of parents and legal guardians; duties of public schools
Sexualized Content In Public Schools
Michigan’s children are increasingly exposed to sexualized content in public schools.
Books read to little ones (such as the story of a transgender child in I am Jazz), books in libraries and classrooms, anti-bullying campaigns, sexual behavior surveys and focus groups, graphic Sex Ed curriculum and resource websites, and Michigan’s new Social Studies Standards bring sexualized content to children.
The National Sexuality Education Standards publication, a collaboration of Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ activist groups, is a driving force behind the increase in sexual content, promoting the integration of graphic Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) into K–12 Health curriculum.
Michigan students are also increasingly being encouraged to access sexual health services through Health Department clinics, school based clinics, and even Planned Parenthood itself, removing parental notification and consent for medical care.
Resource websites provided to students in connection with sexuality content easily connect them with Health Departments and Planned Parenthood for care. Directing children to medical care outside of parental knowledge and consent is not only concerning in regards to sexual health and abortion, but also problematic when combined with the exposure of children to gender identity materials and curriculum.
As seen in Ohio, there is potential for state agencies and courts to side step parents altogether to facilitate gender transition. Directing the care of a child is a natural right of parents, and is outside of the scope of the legal role of public schools in Michigan.
An important documentary, NO OPT-OUT ALLOWED: The California Sex Ed Indoctrination, was recently created regarding Comprehensive Sex Education in California, with assistance from the law firm, Advocates for Faith and Freedom. It is valuable in understanding the potential risks of allowing Planned Parenthood aligned legislation and curriculum to get a hold in a state.
Advocates for Faith and Freedom uncovered school districts in California were being legally advised by the ACLU to facilitate abortions during school hours without parental consent or knowledge, and to lie to parents and amend attendance records as needed to maintain student confidentiality. The documentary also reveals the graphic content of Comprehensive Sex Ed.
National Sexuality Education Standards
According to Future of Sex Education (FoSE), a partnership between LGBTQ activist groups Advocates for Youth, Answer, and SEICUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, “The goal of the National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K–12 is to provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum, core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in grades K–12.”
A collaborative effort by these LGBTQ activist groups and Planned Parenthood, as well as Laurie Bechhofer of MDE, the National Sexuality Education Standards promote:
• The early and over-sexualization of children
• LGBTQ family structures and issues
• Gender identity
• Explicit sexual content
• Teaches students to become an ally/advocate on sexuality issues, even if such content contradicts the values of a student’s family.
The National Sexuality Education Standards sound official and are used to legitimize integration of Comprehensive Sex Ed materials (CSE), written to fulfill the “national standards,” into Sex Ed and K–12 Health curriculum. CSE is very much a tool used by Planned Parenthood to integrate desired content into public schools and direct students to medical care outside of parental guidance and knowledge.
Future Of Sex Education Toolkit
Future of Sex Education (FoSE) created a toolkit for parents which promotes getting rid of abstinence based Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) programs like Willing to Wait and replacing them with Comprehensive Sex Education curriculum.
Laurie Bechhofer of the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) forwarded the toolkit through Michigan School Health Coordinators Association (MISHCA) to Intermediate School District (ISD) Coordinators in Michigan. These coordinators then shared it with Allendale Public Schools as a resource to use with their Sex Ed Advisory Board.
During this time, Allendale’s new district administration was engaged in the process of exploring Comprehensive Sex Ed aligned curricula, despite 8 previous years of using a Sexual Risk Avoidance program with no complaints.
Frequently asked questions in the FoSE toolkit on page 7, 8, include:
“Shouldn’t parents have the final say on what their kids learn about sex? My child is not engaging in the types of behaviors these curricula address. Why do you need to teach kids about how to have anal sex? It’s all so graphic. Isn’t my child too young to be learning about sex education?”
Rights, Respect, Responsibility (3–R’S) And The Michigan Model For Health
A prominent CSE curriculum that was written to fulfill the National Sexuality Education Standards is Rights, Respect, Responsibility (the 3’R’s), written by Advocates for Youth, and recommended by Planned Parenthood. The authors have strong connections with Planned Parenthood, including Dr. Elizabeth Schroeder, who “was previously the associate vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood of New York City and the manager of education and special projects at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was part of the core team that developed the National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills K–12 (2011).”
The 3-R’s begins with teaching genitalia in kindergarten, and continues with over-sexualized content through high school. The curriculum is in use in California, and has contributed to mass parent protests and a Sex Ed sit out in 2019 of over 12,000 students.
In late 2018, Laurie Bechhofer of MDE created a Sexual Health Education Guide template for school districts. This guide includes using the 3-R’s curriculum for 11th and 12th grade Michigan students, including modules on “Gender and Sexual Orientation” and “Fantasy or Reality.”
The guide was shared with ISD Coordinators at the MISHCA Conference in June 2019, for dissemination to districts across the state. It is also available as a resource from the MDE on the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH) website, of which Ms. Bechhofer is a board member.
Michigan Model For Health
A Michigan OAISD coordinator wrote to Allendale Public Schools of 3–R’s, “…coordinators are working now on how to integrate these lessons with a smooth transition to the MM (Michigan Model for Health). The training focused a lot too on how to word certain things without offending students. This can easily be done in our MM training.”
Many Michigan districts use Michigan Model for Health for their Health curriculum K–12, as well as for their Sex Ed curriculum. An update to the Michigan Model for Health, to include a Pre–K module, was announced at the MISCHA conference in June 2019.
Lesson titles in the MM Pre–K module, “Comparing and contrasting family characteristics” and “Increasing self awareness and respecting the personal space of others (consent),” are consistent with National Sexuality Education Standards/3–R’s content for young students. Without viewing actual lessons, it is unknown at this time if materials of concern are included. Michigan Model for Health is a collaboration of MDE and MDHHS, and is used in over 80% of Michigan school districts, as well as numerous other states.
Besides the 3-R’s curriculum, other Comprehensive Sex Ed based curricula is recommended within our state, including ETR.
Resource websites for students are also highly problematic in regards to CSE content, containing links which easily direct students to inappropriate content. California parents have protested this content and Allendale parents discovered it while evaluating proposed Sex Ed curriculum for their district.
Curriculum for use on healthy relationships by loveisrespect.org, clearly encourages students to interact with them and visit their website. While content created for the classroom appears benign, the organization’s website contains CSE content, with links to Planned Parenthood and the hugely controversial and graphic scarleteen.com. It also has live “advocates” to connect with who support sexual behaviors such as polyamory.
From the website post, Is Monogamy Not Right For You?:
“Another essential part of healthy communication is sexual boundaries, including having safe sex. Does everyone want to engage in sexual activities together? Apart? Or a combination of both? However you want the sexual boundaries to work, it’s important to communicate your wants and needs. If at any point in time you feel like your partner(s) are putting you at risk for HIV and/or STIs, then that might be a sign the relationship structure is unhealthy.”
Stayteen.org, another website proposed for use with students, connected students to their local Health Department for contraception and sexual health care outside of parental consent or notification. (stayteen.org currently redirects to the Power to Decide Teen Talk website page.
In 5 Tips for Talking To Your Doctor About Birth Control, Stayteen advised,
“‘If you’re concerned about your privacy when scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician or a gynecologist, places like Planned Parenthood provide a lot of birth control options and are the masters of confidentiality,’ Says Dr. Kate. ‘There you can pay out of pocket so that nothing is reported on your parent’s insurance, and birth control options are offered on a sliding scale.’”
Nearly 200 parents sent a letter to Allendale Public Schools outlining concerns on websites proposed for student use.
The Michigan Department of Education, ISD Coordinators and large school districts organized under Michigan School Health Coordinators Association (MISHCA), and Health Departments are intertwined and organized contributors to the push for Comprehensive Sex Education in Michigan.
Michigan Department Of Education
“…has been the HIV/STD Education Consultant with the Michigan Department of Education since 1996. She has been the project director for a federally-funded grant to promote exemplary sexual health education, access to sexual health services, and safe and supportive school environments for all students. Laurie has led a statewide initiative, A Silent Crisis: Creating Safe and Supportive Schools for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Students. In 2008, she co-founded the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH). She has been invited to serve on numerous national panels including the National Sexuality Education Standards Committee, and to speak at a sex education briefing on Capitol Hill. Laurie is a past president for the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, a Fellow with the American School Health Association, and co-author of a chapter in the book, Case Studies in Global School Health Promotion.”
In late 2018, Laurie Bechhofer created a Sexual Health Education Guide for school districts, recommending Puberty: The Wonder Years for grades 4–6, Healthy Sexuality for grade 7, Michigan Model for grades 8–10, and Rights, Respect, Responsibility (3-R’s) for grades 11 and 12. The 3-R’s, suggested for 11th and 12th grade Michigan students, includes modules on “Gender and Sexual Orientation,” and “Fantasy or Reality.”
The MDE Sex Health Education Guide was released for dissemination to ISD Coordinators at the 2019 MISHCA Conference by Wendy Sellers, author of Puberty: The Wonder Years, who collaborated on the project. (Wendy Sellers is a retired ISD Coordinator, co-author of the Michigan Model, and active speaker and proponent of Comprehensive Sex Education.)
Ms. Sellers writes about MDE’s process of developing the template on her blog, which included input from national leaders in sex education, without naming those individuals.
Instructional and Non-Instructional Program Delivery
The new MDE Sexual Health Education Guide on the MOASH website outlines how sex education topics might be delivered during non-instruction times, without Sex Ed Advisory Board approval and parental consent required by law for Sex Education (p. 8–9).
“Sex education topics might be addressed during non-instruction times.
While sex education that is not part of the formal instructional time doesn’t have to go through the formal school board approval process specified in state law, our district expects these situations to be brought to the attention of the Sex Education Advisory Board and parents to be notified prior to implementation. Examples of some non-instructional situation include:
• Programs occurring during the lunch period or after school
• Grant programs that include sex education topics, such as teen pregnancy prevention or dating violence programs
• Seminars or forums that address sexuality issues and/or HIV/STI education
• Athletic team meetings
• Sex education content may appear in a variety of venues throughout the school. The following are not considered part of the instructional program; therefore, they do not require the approval required by state law. Each has its own process for approval:
• School newspapers: The content of school newspapers conforms with the policy for student publications.
• School library holdings: These are governed by library policies.
• Classroom book collections: These are not subject to the sex education laws. Research papers, debates, or speeches: Topics chosen by students that pertain to sexuality issues are allowable in non-health classes in accordance with the class teacher’s parameters, without formal school board approval.
• Resource materials in public areas of the school: This might include, but is not limited to, student-created or recommended posters in the hallways or restrooms, pamphlets in the counseling or nursing office, or artwork. These are not subject to sex education laws but will be approved by the principal or designee.
• Clothing or items with messages: These are governed by the dress code.”
Since 2000, MDE and Regional Health Coordinators have trained over 2100 teachers and administrators in over 300 districts on LGBTQ curriculum and implementation of LGBTQ friendly policies into schools, with a training called A Silent Crisis.
The training materials, including legal and policy advice provided to Michigan teachers and administrators, are written by LGBTQ activist groups.
Multiple documents from A Silent Crisis were provided to the Sex Ed Advisory Board of Allendale Public Schools to support the continued teaching of gender identity curriculum, which was taught without legal approval or parental consent for several years.
SEXUAL HEALTH INITIATIVE FOR TRANSFORMATION (SHIFT)
Laurie Bechhofer of MDE also oversees Sexual Health Initiative for Transformation (SHIFT), which is being implemented in 14 Michigan School Districts. Beyond Sex Ed, this initiative contains a sexual health services component, which can be provided at school without parental notification or consent.
“Students need not only the knowledge and skills but also access to sexual health services in order to avoid HIV, other STIs, or unintended pregnancy. Schools have a critical role to play in facilitating delivery of such preventive services, by either providing onsite services through school-based health centers or connecting students to adolescent-friendly, community-based agencies, including school-linked health centers. Key adolescent health services include counseling and testing for HIV, other STIs, and pregnancy, STI treatment, referral for and/or provision of contraception, and HPV vaccinations. All services must be provided in accordance with the Michigan statutes that prohibit the dispensing of a family planning drug or device in a school (§380.1507, 388.1766).”
Michigan School Health Coordinators Association (MISHCA)
The Michigan School Health Coordinators Association (MISHCA) is made up of 24 Regional Coordinators (ISD, ESD, or large district employees). The Regional Coordinators receive direction from Laurie Bechhofer of MDE on sexuality curriculum. At the June 2019 MISHCA conference, new Michigan Model for Health curriculum was announced, including a module for Pre–K, as was the Sexual Health Education Guide for Michigan schools from Ms. Bechhofer of MDE. The Regional Coordinators (ISD, ESD, or large district employees), act as advisors to local districts and SEABs on curriculum and Sex Ed Advisory Boards.
The collaboration of the ISD Coordinators was evidenced in a broad email request for information about abstinence based Sexual Risk Avoidance program Willing to Wait, being used in Allendale Public Schools. The email request elicited input from other ISD Coordinators, including the method used by a nearby district to successfully oust Willing to Wait by using a superintendent mandate that only school district teachers could teach Sex Ed. The same technique was then applied to Allendale Public Schools when Allendale’s Superintendent mandated only district teachers could provide Sex Ed. (Previously, Allendale’s SEAB and School Board had approved Willing to Wait, which included the use of Willing to Wait instructors, as the “methods and materials” for the provision of Sex Ed.) In response to an official complaint from parents on this and other violations of the Sex Ed School Code, the ISD Coordinator advising Allendale Public Schools was given significant responsibility to investigate the concerns of violation of Michigan School Code regarding Sex Education. In absence of a definition of “methods” in the Sex Ed School Code, the OAISD supported the Superintendent’s decision.
Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH)
The Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH) is made up of individuals, many from the education and public health fields, who advocate for Comprehensive Sex Education*. Issues of priority to MOASH are:
• Access to sexual health services (to minors without parental consent, including abortion)
• Consent and gender based discrimination
• Expectant and parenting youth
• Comprehensive Sex Education
• Sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBTQ+)
The board currently includes, among others, Laurie Bechhofer of the MDE, and Heather Alberda of the Ottawa County Health Department.
“The Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH)* supports the implementation of medically accurate, evidence-informed, age-appropriate, and comprehensive sexual health education in schools that is inclusive and affirming of all sexual identities.”
“Often youth are disproportionally impacted by the challenges (finances, transportation, insurance, proximity to quality care facilities, provider competence and support, etc.) that most people face in seeking care, and they also face unique challenges as minors regarding confidentiality and parental consent.”
In its official position regarding abortion, MOASH* states, “Specifically, minors’ access to abortion is often obstructed by the legal mandate for parental consent or a court-provided waiver of parental consent, obtained only via judicial bypass process. We support the removal of the parental consent mandate in Michigan.1”
MOASH provides information on obtaining a judicial bypass* for an abortion when youth cannot obtain parental permission.
* Original link broken. Updated with most recent information.
Michigan Department Of Health And Human Services (MDHHS)
MDHHS partners with the Michigan Department of Education on the Michigan Model for Health.
Local Health Departments promote Planned Parenthood materials and agenda to our children in our schools, as well as promote and in some cases provide sexual health services to our students without parental consent or notification. Each of Michigan’s Health Departments are independently members of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO, membership requires dues), and Michigan as a whole has a state branch of the organization called MALPH. NACCHO’s policy on Sex Education encourages promotion of Comprehensive Sex Education and is against abstinence only education in schools.
The Washtenaw County Health Department was instrumental in the presentation of I Am Jazz*in all of the elementary classrooms in Saline, MI. “The Washtenaw County Task Force on Transgender Youth, in partnership with the Washtenaw County Health Department, has produced a video of various members of the greater Washtenaw community reading a children’s book about a transgender student. The County and District’s goal is to support a positive school and community environment that recognizes the differences amongst all of us. We have transgender students in our elementary buildings. It is important that all students are supported on a daily basis.” —Saline Area Schools Administration & Board of Education
Heather Alberda of the Ottawa County Health Department offered her assistance to Allendale Public Schools, after being notified by Bev Schroeder, OAISD coordinator, the Allendale Sex Ed Advisory Board was being “revamped”. She discussed conducting focus groups on sexual behavior of students in the district, and had previously provided in school sexual health services within the district (which can be provided without parental notification or consent). Ms. Alberda, a certified sexuality educator, presented to Allendale’s Sex Ed Advisory Board to educate them on the YAS behavioral data of Ottawa County youth*, which is a behavioral data survey, to include sexual behaviors, collected in many school districts. Heather Alberda serves as Secretary of the board of MOASH.
Allendale Public School’s Sex Ed curriculum proposed in 2019 included use of the websites Stayteen.org and loveisrespect.org, websites posted on a local website and Facebook page for teens by the Health Department. These sites contain links to the sexually explicit Scarleteen.com and Planned Parenthood.
The Ottawa County Health Department provides an infant to teen sexuality education packet* to parents of Ottawa County, which includes Planned Parenthood materials within the packet. Several of the book and website resources included align with the Planned Parenthood Comprehensive Sex Ed agenda, including Advocates for Youth, which promotes the 3-R’s, Planned Parenthood’s Sex Etc.org website, and Stayteen.
* Original link broken
Michigan State School Board Guidance On LGBTQ Youth
The Michigan State School Board issued a guidance related to LGBTQ issues in 2016, to be implemented with the input of the community, as required by law.
Of particular concern related to these issues, 4) Privacy and Confidentiality Regarding Disclosures. A student’s transgender status, birth name, and sex assigned at birth are confidential information and considered personally identifiable information (PII) under FERPA… When students have not come out to their parent(s), a disclosure to parent(s) should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. School districts should consider the health, safety, and well-being of the student, as well as the responsibility to keep parents informed. Privacy considerations may vary with the age of the students.
Here are MASB comments* for local School Boards on the State School Board guidance, which as yet do not reflect the changes from the Trump Administration on Title IX and possible complaints made to the OCR.
* Original link broken
The Legal Role Of Parents And Schools
There is a growing demand from some in our culture for adherence to a set of sexuality beliefs, requiring compelled thoughts, speech, actions to demonstrate support, and now compelled parenting and sexualization of our children through school.
Under Michigan law, the care and upbringing of children is the responsibility of parents, not schools. The parental right and religious and conscious freedom of parents to provide for the care and upbringing of their own children is protected by Michigan law and the Constitution of the United States. Further, Michigan schools are charged with developing “the pupil’s intellectual capabilities and vocational skills in a safe and positive manner.”
We stand against the over sexualization of children through curriculum aligned with Planned Parenthood, and against the division Comprehensive Sex Education brings to communities.
Parents can respectfully disagree on sexuality issues, and allow each other the dignity and freedom to raise their own children according to their own beliefs, in their own homes.
Mutual respect and freedom is supportive of ALL parents, and is supported by Michigan law. The over sexualization of children and overriding the sexual ethics taught by parents, is outside of the legal role of public schools.
“The public schools of this state serve the needs of the pupils by cooperating with the pupil’s parents and legal guardians to develop the pupil’s intellectual capabilities and vocational skills in a safe and positive manner.” 380.10 Rights of parents and legal guardians; duties of public schools. MICHIGAN REVISED SCHOOL CODE
Parents standing for parental rights and student innocence desire positive health outcomes for ALL children.
We do not believe educating children at young ages about sexuality issues and all manners of sexual pleasure (oral, anal, polyamory, etc.) is best for their physical or emotional well being, or that deliberately directing children away from the guidance of their parents in obtaining medical care for sexual health is truly looking out for the best interest of students.
If Sex Ed continues to be offered in public schools, we continue to advocate for abstinence based Sexual Risk Avoidance curriculum (SRA) such as what is offered by ASCEND, which demonstrates the healthiest outcomes for students, as supported by United States HHS data and policy. In communities where there is a substantial divide over what parents desire to be taught in Sex Ed, districts could choose to offer 2 modules, as would be respectful of the beliefs of all parents. Sex Ed and sexuality content could also simply be left to parents, as “It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children.”
The bureaucracies of Michigan have created a strong network advocating for Planned Parenthood aligned Comprehensive Sex Education content to be brought to our children through our public schools.
We ask that the legislature stand strong in its support of student innocence, parental rights, and absolute transparency in regards to decision making on materials to be taught and services provided in our schools.
The opinions expressed within this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the positions and beliefs of Simply American or its affiliates.