An Omaha Public Schools parent meeting devolved into shouting and violence when abstinence-only advocates accused district officials of not being upfront about a new sex education curriculum.
According to Jay Irwin, a University of Nebraska at Omaha professor in attendance who wrote a detailed description of what happened, there were about 1,000 people in attendance at the Tuesday night meeting and people opposed to the optional curriculum known as comprehensive sex education, or CSE, wore red stickers. Video from the meeting shows total chaos as parents stand and shout about purity.
“Planned Parenthood has came in. There is a big ring here. We are fighting this on the state level as well,” Amber Parker told local WDAM.
One woman was dubbed “puritymom” after she was filmed during the meeting standing and screaming, “It’s my daughter! My daughter! Who’s going to keep her pure? Nobody! I am! Not OPS! Not OPS!”
“Why won’t anyone fight for kids’ purity?”
Posted by Megan Hunt on Tuesday, October 20, 2015
The school district, however, pointed out that sex education is an optional elective, and students can opt out if they want.
“Last few years, except when we decided to change the curriculum, we really haven’t had those calls,” OPS director of human growth and development Dr. Karen Spencer-May told WDAM. “Parents were pretty OK with what we were doing. This is not going to be that different.”
Proposed additions to the curriculum will include education about gender identities, emergency contraception and abortion, WDAM reports.
Irwin said an atheist was physically assaulted and a group of LGBT young people were threatened and verbally attacked.
“A group of young LGBTQ people were threatened with violence by a mother and her son for being there, for not apologizing for their sexuality, and for supporting education that was respectful of their identities,” Irwin wrote. “They were called evil, sinful, and told they were going to hell. The advisor that brought them, who is also queer identified, was told that she was teaching them how to be gay and that she should be ashamed of herself. When the advisor asked that the person be respectful, that’s when the threats of violence began. She ushered her groups out to make sure they stayed safe.”
Parent Bernie Garcia stood outside waving a sign that read, “Say No to Comprehensive Sex Ed.” He was upset over a rumor he’d heard that the course will teach children different sex positions and how to masturbate.
“That’s disgusting,” he told LiveWellNebraska. “That’s not right. Children should learn about sex when they become adults.”
The heightened interest is relatively new, LiveWell reports. An April meeting drew only 150 attendees, but the large, vocal crowd was spurred by social media posts, churches and other community organizations, including Nebraskans for Founders’ Values, a conservative Christian group. OPS officials told LiveWell some of the people in attendance Tuesday weren’t necessarily even OPS parents or students.
Supporters of the curriculum were quieter.
“There’s been a lot of news about increased STD rates,” Jordan Delmundo told WDAM. “We’re seeing increased rates of HIV in young people. They are not being well prepared, and isn’t it our responsibility as citizens to prepare them to be healthy adults?”
Irwin said he was disappointed by the way some people were treated Tuesday.
“I think, all in all, I feel so scared and sad for the young people who are the children of some of these parents, whether they were present or not,” he wrote. “Or they are congregants at some of the churches that the adults attend. There is no doubt some of these kids are LGBTQ. They were given a very clear message from their parents and at least a segment of their community tonight. And that message is just flat out wrong.”
Correction: This story was edited to reflect that “puritymom” is not the same person as the attendee who filmed her remarks during the meeting.