Seeing Nationwide Issues in Nebraska’s Sex Education Standards

Seeing Nationwide Issues in Nebraska’s Sex Education Standards
Seeing Nationwide Issues in Nebraska’s Sex Education Standards

No area of educational policy is as divisive as sex education. Those in favor cite statistics on teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Thus, they automatically enter into conflict with conservative Christians who primarily focus on moral arguments. They rightly affirm that sex education has a corrosive effect on children’s morality and reduces the beauty of marriage into solely a carnal act.

This article has two goals. The first one is to equip those who want to fight against sex education’s usurpation of parental rights and its sexualization of children. The second is to report on the actions of concerned people in Nebraska who are fighting this destructive ideology.

A National Issue

New sex education programs are occurring in Washington, Illinois, and Ohio. This increasingly important issue is emerging as the sexual revolution descends into seeking acceptance of ever more perverse behaviors.

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This is a national problem. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia require some combination of sex and HIV education. Twenty-two states require that the information be “medically accurate.” Twenty-five states require parental notification before instruction begins, but only five states require parental consent.

The new set of “Health Education Standards” proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education is the flashpoint on this front in the nation’s Culture War.

Distortions of Sex and Gender

When reading these documents, one must understand the terms of the debate.  Documents like the Nebraska Standards are peppered with these words that create confusion.

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One major distinction is between the terms “sex” and “gender.” Many people use both words interchangeably, which is precisely the goal of the sexual revolutionaries. Creating confusion around terms makes it easier to subvert them.

The real meaning of the word sex is a biological term, being male or female. However, it is also used in the phrase “sexual orientation,” which describes the physical characteristics that an individual finds attractive in others, as in homosexual and heterosexual.

Other derivations of the word are “sexual consent” and “sexual agency.” Consent describes a person’s ability to give or deny permission. Agency is the ability of a person to make and enforce decisions about sexual matters, including one’s sexual “definition.” A “sexual relationship” refers to the connection that a person has with a “sexual partner.”

On the other hand, gender is a social and cultural term. “Gender identity” is the individual’s perception of one’s own sex, whether or not that corresponds to biological sex. “Gender expression” is how one presents oneself regarding dress, grooming, and behavior. “Gender roles” are the ways that that society expects men and women to behave. Such expectations are also referred to as “gender-role stereotypes.”

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Gender is also used to describe the plethora of genders that sexual revolutionaries have called into being. “Cisgender” describes boys who know that they are boys and girls who know that they are girls – regardless of whether they are hetero- or homosexual. “Transgender” is the opposite of “cisgender” –someone who is biologically male but identifies as female, or vice versa. A “gender non-binary” claims to be a combination of male and female – or something else entirely. Those who claim to be “gender expansive” claim to be something “broader” than the above definitions.

Other Misleading Terms

Other terms in the Nebraska standards are intended to mislead.

“Medically accurate” is a phrase that masks a dark intent. Programs that are medically accurate present human sexuality as a mechanical process, devoid of any moral overtones. Body parts will be described by their scientific names without regard for the children’s readiness to absorb them. The goal is to strip children of God-given modesty when discussing these matters.

“Reproductive care” is another such term. The uninformed may assume that it applies to the health of reproductive organs or protecting the unborn child’s health. However, “reproductive care” (and the similar term “reproductive health”) almost always refers to abortion. Thus, the word “abortion” is absent from the Nebraska Standards.

The standards emphasize “family structures.” Almost any group under the same roof qualifies as a family. Thus, kindergarteners are supposed to “Discuss different kinds of family structures. (e.g., single parent, blended, intergenerational, cohabiting, adoptive, foster, same-gender, interracial).” First-grade students are admonished to “Demonstrate ways to show respect for different types of family structures.” In the fourth grade, they are reminded to “promote dignity and respect” for everyone, no matter their “family configuration.” The message is clear. The “family” is whatever members say it is. The word “marriage” does not appear anywhere in the Standards.

The Standards do have a lot to say about “bias.” The fifth graders are to “Describe cultural beliefs, conscious and unconscious bias and stigma and the various factors that influence them.” This corresponds with Critical Race theorists’ unproven assertion that “oppressors” discriminate against others without even knowing it. In case the fifth-grade students miss this vital point, it is repackaged for eighth grade. “Analyze how positive or negative stereotypes of an individual or group can be unconscious and may lead to discrimination and prejudice.”

“Intersecting identities” refers to a radical idea called “intersectionality” that developed out of Critical Race Theory. Webster defines it as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.” The Nebraska Standards also adds other “isms” to the mix of those who can be subject to discrimination. There is ageism (discrimination against those too young or too old), ableism (against the disabled) and “heterosexism” (against homosexuals – a refinement of “homophobia”). Like bias, these “negative stereotypes” can be either conscious or unconscious.

Others topics of concern involve students’ privacy regarding their families. For example, sixth graders are to “Examine influences, personal values, beliefs and perceived norms and how they relate to health behaviors.”

Political Fallout

According to the Nebraska State Department of Education, the anticipated approval for these standards is August 2021. Its promoters have an uphill battle ahead of them.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Governor Pete Ricketts has called for the Department of Education “to scrap their proposed sex education topics.” Twenty-eight of the State’s forty-nine State Senators (57%) reproached the Education Commissioner in an open letter.

“The Nebraska Legislature has repeatedly rejected efforts to mandate so-called comprehensive sex education curriculum. Yet, the proposed Health Education Standards are a back door attempt to propose what the people of this State have rejected. In doing so, the proposed Health Education Standards violate the right of parents as the first educators of their child (especially in matters of human sexuality…. We ask that all sex education and other ideologically motivated content be removed from the Nebraska Health Standards.”

Of course, the Standards have their defenders. They claim the Standards are not mandatory. While true, the Standards permit liberal teachers to spew these ideas into children’s minds. If parents object, the teachers can point to the Standards as a ready-made defense.

Another defense is to de-emphasize the sexual nature of these statements. Jo Springer, who is associated with the SASA (Spouse Abuse Sexual Assault) Center in Hastings, Nebraska, provided a typical comment. “Teaching consent to kids as laid out in the proposed health standards isn’t about sex, especially for kindergarteners, in the early years, it’s about teaching them that their bodies are their own and they should expect to be respected, its [sic] also teaching them to have respect for other peoples [sic] bodies and their right to say no.”

Creating a Catholic Response

Fortunately, the Nebraska Catholic Conference is also taking a leading role in this struggle. Its clear language is refreshing.

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“The problematic aspects of these standards treat children as sexual objects and further disregard God’s plan for marriage, the family, and the body. The normalization of these ideologically-driven concepts will negatively impact and do lasting damage to friends, teammates, family members, and our culture on the whole.”

It is also helping concerned Catholics express their opinions in the public square and to state representatives. Its website contains printable handouts tailored to parents, clergy, teachers and “Catholic Advocates.” While much of the information is the same, suggested actions vary according to the recipient. It also prepared a survey that Nebraskans can use to record their concerns, which can then be delivered en masse to officials.

All parents and concerned Catholics would be well advised to review their State’s guidelines on this sensitive topic. It may take a little digging. The Department of Education is not eager to share this information with its citizens, especially conservatives.

This issue is critical to the moral health of America’s children.

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