RALEIGH, NC (News and Observer) - (T. Keung Hui | The News and Observer) - The N.C. Values Coalition is urging North Carolina parents to keep their children home on Monday to protest what it calls "graphic, gender-bending, promiscuity-promoting sex education" being taught in public schools.
Conservative activists are upset about what's taught both in sex education and in programs meant to build acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender students. They want parents to respond by keeping children home from school as part of Monday's nationwide "Sex Ed Sit Out" campaign and to vote for candidates who support their views.
In North Carolina, the N.C. Values Coalition wants parents to both keep their children home Monday and to write a letter to their principal explaining their decision.
"This is a national movement to encourage schools to stop using taxpayer dollars to teach programs which are intended to encourage early sexualization of children, causing them to question their own gender and to normalize sexual behaviors that most parents don't agree with," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition.
Elizabeth Finley, a spokeswoman for Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens NC (SHIFT NC), questioned why parents would keep their children home since she said it's easy for families to opt out of sex ed classes.
"We're always big proponents of parental engagement, but we think this is a really strange way to protest this topic," Finley said. "They're going to miss a whole day of classes, including reading and math, on a day when nobody knows if sex ed will be taught."
In North Carolina, school districts are required to teach about abstinence, protection against sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptive measures and sexual assault/abuse risk prevention. School districts pick their own materials to teach the required state standards.
The N.C. Values Coalition is complaining about three programs in North Carolina:
- Some school districts use the Get Real sex education program from Planned Parenthood;
- Some school districts use the Welcoming Schools program from the Human Rights Campaign. It's used by Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in about a dozen elementary schools that school officials say have asked for help dealing with transgender students.
- The state Department of Public Instruction has contracted with SHIFT NC to provide school districts optional training in how to support LGBQT students.
Finley said the training helps promote an environment that makes it safer for all students.
"We know from the research that LGBQT youth have more mental health issues and higher suicide rates than their non-LGBQT peers, but these tactics schools learn really benefit all students," she said.
Representatives from the Wake County, Durham and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school systems said they don't use either Get Real or Welcoming Schools.
In addition to encouraging families to sit out school Monday, the N.C. Values Coalition also wants people to attend a rally at 5 p.m. Monday in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center to protest the district's use of Welcoming Schools.
Elizabeth Johnston, a national conservative blogger who calls herself the "Activist Mommy," is scheduled to attend the Charlotte protest. She helped organize the national campaign.