|Windsor Tribune - Windsor, Colorado
|The Family Room: My not-so-hidden agenda
|By REBECCA VALENTINE
|Posted on Friday, November 04 @ 12:29:49 PST
|There was a time when I thought most parents wanted
the best for their kids. But after all the back-and-forth over
the issue of WAIT Training vs. comprehensive sex education in
our schools, I'm not so sure. What has become clear to me is
this: Many parents are content to take things at face value
and base their opinions on what they hear rather than do some
investigating and critical thinking of their own.
|When I first heard about WAIT Training,
I visited the program online. I wasn't impressed with what I
saw there, but decided I needed more information before I could
form an opinion. So I borrowed a copy of the workshop manual
and read it. What I read there brought up one red flag after
another. So I did more research. Finally, I decided WAIT as
a whole was not a curriculum I felt was ideal for our students.
Definitely not for mine.
|What I didn't do is listen to my neighbor
tell me that the current sex ed curriculum promotes homosexual
exploration. I didn't just attend a meeting in which a dynamic
saleswoman pitched me a product, and I didn't take her word
as gospel. I didn't rely on anyone else to give me statistics
or "facts" or claims of success.
|Truth is, people can be convinced
of nearly anything. Whether you listened to Shelly Donahue and
thought, "This WAIT is awesome," or read my last column and
thought "WAIT is not all it's cracked up to be," your efforts
to understand what's going on shouldn't stop there. Do some
research of your own; the information is easy to find. Call
the middle school and ask to read the manual for yourself so
you can see what WAIT preaches. Think those medical inaccuracies
and half-truths I mentioned are insignificant? When talking
about your child's health and safety, how does the word "insignificant"
even fit into that dialog?
|One parent stated that any textbook
you pick up will contain inaccuracies, but that you don't throw
out the textbook. Well, no, you don't have to. But you should
change the text to reflect fact. And though Shelly Donahue says
the "errors" have been fixed, they haven't. The program still
contains them. And you don't know what the teacher will do with
|Will you be so cavalier when your
child contracts HIV because you didn't trust him enough to educate
him on safe sexual practices? Abstinence-until-marriage in no
way guarantees safety. Teens are engaging in oral sex more than
ever because they think it's not really sex. HIV and the AIDS
virus live in the lining of the mouth. (Saliva alone contains
proteins that reduce the power of the virus. There is no scientific
evidence that saliva, tears, or sweat can transmit HIV or AIDS.)
So all that sex that isn't really sex puts our kids in danger.
They believe they're abstaining, but because abstinence-only
doesn't address contraception and safe sex practices, these
kids will pay a hefty price. And many of you don't seem concerned
about that risk. We're not talking wrong dates or misspellings
here; we're talking about your child's life.
|This sex ed issue has brought to light
something very troubling here in our town. You're getting a
letter from the school that calls a curriculum engaging, and
that's good enough for you. You go to a meeting and listen to
a professional speaker give you a persuasive sales pitch, and
in your mind, you've already bought the product. You hear the
words "abstinence only" and jump on the bandwagon because hey,
waiting is good. Waiting is good. But ignorance isn't. The solution
doesn't have to be either/or. Bottom line, I hope, is the safety
and protection of your child. How will withholding information
from him achieve this goal?
|As a writer of history and medical/health
reference books, I've been trained to approach a subject unbiased,
to research all sides of any topic, to find the subtle as well
as the obvious. It's my job to recognize reliable sources, whether
they support my belief system or not. And yet, because I've
taken a stance based on my research, I'm accused of having an
agenda to push. What a convenient response that is to what you
don't like to hear.
|The purpose of formal education, to
me, is to impart knowledge. There is an implicit assumption
that knowledge is fact-based. I want the truth for my kids.
I want their education to be rooted in truthfully presented
facts, not fear. And I will do whatever it takes to help make
that happen. If that's an agenda, then yeah, I'm pushing it.
As for teaching values, that's a parent's job, not the schools'.
|Find the facts and think about them
for yourself. Doing so requires more than talking to a friend
or attending a meeting. But whatever you decide, base your opinion
on your own knowledge, not hearsay. To do less is dangerous.
As author Mary Poole said, "To repeat what others have said
requires education. To challenge it requires brains."
|Rebecca Valentine survives in Windsor.
She is the property of four kids and an angel.