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March 14, 2007



I have one word to say: UGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Christine the Soccer Mom

Reason 5,254,010 to homeschool. (Especially for those whose religion still teaches that these things are sins!)


This is abuse. If this man had been a stranger, a minister or a relative and had forced this girl to read such a passage aloud to him, that action would be seen as bordering on pedophilia, if not crossing the line.

The fact that the guy who forced her to do this was a public school teacher somehow makes it OK for him to do to her what no one else would be allowed to.


I'm starting to think that this was the ultimate destination for those who introduced co-ed sex ed in primary schools, whether they realized it or not at the time. The reaction of the teacher to the material ("Calm down") is more illustrative of that intent than the dissembling of the spineless Principal Harman ("I think [the teacher] didn't read the material thoroughly.") What nonsense. And the teacher should be fired; I think his action borders on child abuse. But at least the mask is off the intention of the enlightenment of "Sex Ed".

Alexandra Foley

Hey Christine the Soccer Mom, You stole my line!! I was going to say that I'll file this in my mental "Why I homeschool" box.


Yuck! I'm all for age-appropriate comprehensive sex ed, but that guy should be fired. (Btw, are 'they' all the people in favor of comprehensive sex ed, or are 'they' some other shadowy cabal?)

My sex ed horror story: In 8th grade, our (male) teacher did the passing-around-a-food-item drill that's supposed to show that girls are disgusting and used up after they've had sex. That was humiliating, although I couldn't put my finger on why at the time. Up 'til then, it had just been clinical information on the birds and the bees, so I was not prepared to be humiliated in sex ed class.


That's foul.


And I wouldn't homeschool. I'd be in that principals office making an almightly scene and querying why my tax dollars were paying the salaries of people who'd pull this crap on kids.

Alexandra Foley

RB, Can you elaborate on your sex ed story? I don't fully understand what was passed around (am I obtuse?) and how it makes girls feel disgusting. I never had sex ed -- which is probably why I'm stymied as to how I got these four kids :) Thanks.


Alexandra, you're not obtuse; I'm glad not everybody has had to sit through that lesson. The exercise consisted of a Hostess cupcake being passed around, and students being instructed to handle it, smell it, etc. Then we were asked if anybody wanted to eat the cupcake, which of course nobody did. Then the teacher gave us a lecture-- geared to the girls-- about how if we let boys do that to us, then nobody would want us anymore. I wasn't really interested in having sex with any of the boys in my high school (on anybody's definition of sex), but the message of the lecture was clearly that girls were like Hostess cupcakes, and we were there for the consumption of boys. (This teacher also clearly favored the boys and the better-developed girls, so I don't think I'm imagining things.) I've seen a few lefty blogs complain about the cupcake excercise (or variants with chewing gum), but it is not a new thing.

The interesting thing was that the teacher's ability to demean to the girls in the class had nothing to do with the graphicness of the information presented, and everything to do with the way the information was presented.


The teacher's action was without valid reason and simply unconscionable. He should be disciplined, if not fired.


R.B., I have to say that that is pretty awful too. Honestly, the way abstinence is presented sometimes, it does make me wonder.... I escaped my graphic 4th-grade sex curriculum and considered myself lucky, but I probably would have wanted to escape a Cupcake Curriculum just as well. There are individual abstinence speakers I think are amazing, but sometimes I do wonder if the school is the best place to be teaching this stuff in general. It really does all hinge on how it is presented.

Liz Neville

RB-- That teacher you describe from your experience does sound like a jerk, but have you considered the possibility that the cupcake idea was meant to show that girls have something special and precious that should be treated as such, and not passed around, fiddled with, and discarded?

Liz Neville

Oh, and in answer to your question, I think it's some shadowy cabal ;)


My heart goes out to these girls. Kudos to them for having the wherewithall to tell their parents and alert responsible people about what was going on in their classroom.


According to my mother, at her high school, when the time came for sex ed, the boys and girls were instructed separately.
Myself, I was taught at home until the beginning of eighth grade in a curriculum that completely left out sex ed. The religious schools I attended after that were very careful to confine their instruction to the birds and bees and let us infer human sexuality from the animal reproduction we learned in biology. Even so, I rather suspect some member of the class would have been more comfortable with separate sex ed for boys and girls.


Yeah, Liz, I have considered that. I find it a pretty dubious lesson, since it presupposes that sex is a commodity that women give or sell to men.

Three cheers for bad sex ed! It made me the hairy-legged man-hater I am today! :)


I agree with Liz that we need to send the messages that kids are precious (boys too of course) but the cupcake I have to admit just doesn't do it for me. Maybe a diamond would be better, though I suppose that could get stolen.....

Housekeeping note: we are having some server issues, so if your comments don't get posted or your email doesn't get a response, just please try again--and all apologies.

Also, the original sex ed. story was sent to me by Mandi, a regular reader; thanks for letting us know about it.

Alexandra Foley

I couldn't fall asleep last night because I was so dismayed at the cupcake story. That is so wrong. I agree w/ Liz on the good intention (and Wendy) but it is such a pathetic attempt at teaching purity. And while there is a place for the save-yourself-for-your-husband/wife angle, it cannot be the only reason for abstinence, in my opinion. That's just shoddy teaching at best and damaging at worst.

That said, is it weird that I am now craving cupcakes??


This is outrageous. As a teacher, I could never imagine asking my students to read something like this, let alone asking them to read it outloud. Granted, as an English teacher at the high school level, I do discuss some sensitive issues with my students, especially my seniors when we read Hamlet and Woman Warrior (a novel about Asian American women, during which we discuss the treatment of women in different cultures, including female mutilation in certain tribal cultures) but it is always done with a sense of dignity and respect for all people.

This certainly isn't what we need to be teaching young people about the beauty of sexual relationships. Our religion department is currently working on integreating John Paul II's Theology of the Body into the morality curriculum. It is important to show not only the physical implications of sex, but the psychological and spiritual.

Sorry this is getting so long, but I wanted to say a quick word on the cupcake experiment. I've seen something similar done, but it is with cookies and glasses of water. 4 volunteers are asked to eat an oreo cookie, then take a cup of water, rinse the water around in their mouths, and then spit the water back into the cup. The presenter then has the volunteers pour water into each other's cups, showing the exchage of fluid and disease when you have sex with multiple partners, especially if your partners have multiple partners. I thought that was a great way to show one of the physical implications of sex before marriage. Maybe this was the point that was trying to be reached with the cupcakes.

Liz Neville

RB-- you are too funny. And Alexandra-- NO to those awful, plastic-y, Hostess things, yes to bakery and homemade!

John Jansen

Jonathan Stacks, campaign manager for Illinois Campaign for Responsible Sex Education, gasped when he heard the details of the "frequently asked questions" read aloud in the 8th grade class. He said the material was not age-appropriate, and never should have been taught without discussing such sensitive material with parents first.

First, he's saying it's not age-appropriate. Then, he's saying it shouldn't have been taught without discussing it with parents first.


If it's not age-appropriate, what on earth would be the point of discussing it with parents in the first place?

"This is really getting into the aspect of pleasure . . . and the mechanics of how to have good sex," Stacks said. "It goes way beyond what the national medical associations recommend for a comprehensive program."

Now doesn't that just speak volumes. Let's not kid ourselves: outrageous episodes like this are hardly confined to the Chicago suburbs. Chances are they're happening in a sex-ed class at a middle school near you, too.

Stacks said most Illinois schools shy away from teaching anything but abstinence, AIDS and human development, which is what is mandated by state standards. Though his organization advocates going beyond abstinence and discussing some sexual issues and contraception more openly with teens, Stacks said, "It's really important we don't go to the other extreme." [emphasis added]

I hardly know where to begin.

First, some background: The group Stacks works for -- the Illinois Campaign for Responsible Sex Education -- is a joint project of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH) and Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area.

Last year, ICAH's annual fundraiser was held at the headquarters of Playboy magazine in downtown Chicago. (I took part in a protest of the event, and blogged about it here.)

Tickets to the event cost $75, and attendees who paid an extra $50 were also entitled one to “a tour of the Playboy offices and art collection[!]” as well as a VIP reception with Christie Hefner.

Christie Hefner (the daughter of Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy), has been its CEO since 1982. She was the one who decided that the company could make more money by producing increasingly harder-core pornography — something that even her father was reluctant to do for a long time.

Bearing this in mind, reread Stacks' remark:

It's really important we don't go to the other extreme.

Oh, really, Mr. Stacks?

Serenity KB

Long time reader, first time commenter here - this story worries me immensely. I don't have any children on my own (and I'm another who would homeschool if I did) but I have a 12 year old sister in public school and the thought she might be subjected to something like that is frightening.

There are some subjects that should be left to parental discretion - and if that's too much to ask, honoring young women's feelings and reactions to such material should not be.


As for illustrations, one I heard that was geared for children who are (hopefully) too young to be thinking in terms of sexuality, was to be thinking of the person you wanted to marry and, knowing he or she is out there somewhere, being true to them by being the kind of person they would want to be thinking about, too. Since most young people have grand dreams of Prince Charming types and such, it gives them the motivation to think about purity as a precious gift to the person you hope to meet someday. You do have to be careful, however, to be sensitive to people who have been abused or simply unwise in youth, and not characterize them as unworthy of a loving marriage and family.

The teacher should be fired, but I would also take a good look at whoever made that text part of the curriculum, too.


I normally advocate comprehensive sex ed, but humiliating students into reading things that they don't want to read is no way to educate. It's a good way to discourage kids from wanting to attend or participate in class at all, and from asking questions that may turn out to be essential later in their lives.

I remember sitting in fear in junior high, praying that it wouldn't be my turn to read when there was a swear word or something else I didn't want to say in front of the class. I can only imagine reading this--I like to think that I would have stood up to the teacher and refused, but I probably wouldn't have, and I would have been too shy about the subject to even confide in my parents.


Re: Teaching Theology of the Body -- AWESOME!!! Man does that have some great stuff. I just got to hear Christopher West speak about how to talk to your kids about God's plan for sexuality -- it was great stuff.

And about the school thinking they are teaching how to obtain pleasure during sex --- have they not read the research? Men and women who only have one partner by far have the best sex. They are able to create a very strong neural pathway with one another; whereas, a person who has been with many many partners has many many fractured pathways. Uggggh! This stuff just irritates me.

Our abstinence presenters do a demonstration with pudding. They take a chocolate pudding and a vanilla pudding. They have a guy and girl come up to the front of the class and put a spoonfull of pudding in each other's cup (this symbolizes them having sex) then they swirl it around. Next the presenter talks about how one of them breaks up with the other. She then asks them to try and take back just their pudding flavor from the other....but obviously you can't.


Mandi, back when I used to attend a church youth group they did something similar, they glued two pieces of paper together and then they let it dry and then tried to prise them apart and of course they got all ripped. It was kinda silly but it did actually get a point across. Without invoking any used/dirty connotations for females.


Mr. Groff clearly went way overboard. On the other hand, public schools must not fail to teach kids about contraception, birth control, the risks of oral sex, etc.

Kelly -- I am surprised that "Theology of the Body" would be taught in a high school (I assume) curriculum. Do you teach at a Catholic school?


I do teach at a Catholic high school, in an urban neighborhood. We are looking into how to better impliment faith-based sex ed. I have many parenting students, and while we are thrilled that they have chosen life for their children (both girls and boys - who are being supportive fathers) it would be better if that was a choice that they didn't have to make in high school.


Hey thanks for that ICAH link John, I just had a chance to go check it out now and it's very... illuminating.

Dave Munger

How come people always say "oral sex" when that's so vague. I mean, that can reffer to two totally different things, one of which is WAY worse, IMHO.

Paul Clutterbuck

I've long been aware that my love language is giving. That's why my kidney transplant (aka the gift of life) has always been so special for me. When I think about Jesus' death and resurrection, the gift aspect of it is as important as the blood-cleansing aspect. I also tend to see my kidney transplant as a sacrament of Christian redemption, but that's another story.

After I received my transplant in 1990, I took up an interest in Third World socio-economic development, on the basis of the sacrificial generosity that is the foundation of Christian ethics. To my mind, generosity at both personal and global levels is a form of love in action, whereas greed and miserliness are a symptom of the lack of love. But I'm getting away from my main point.

Recently I came to realize that my love language also explains why virginity has always been so important to me. Virginity is a gift that we give to each other on our wedding night, and it is the only way we can truly gift our sexuality to our life partner in its wholeness. Marriage is where we exchange the ownership of our respective sexualities with our wife or husband. When I give my sexuality to my wife, I want her to know that I haven't already given it to someone else, and I trust that she will be able to tell me the same.

I think the ritual of a father giving his daughter away at a wedding can be extremely precious if she is a virgin, especially if he has helped her to protect herself from men who want sex but won't commit to marriage. If a woman isn't a virgin, she has given herself away already, which makes the wedding-service ritual rather meaningless.

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