Professor live-tweets son’s sex ed class, draws attention to abstinence education

Peter Kotecki, Reporter

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A Northwestern professor attracted national attention for criticizing her son’s abstinence-based sex education class in a series of tweets last week.

Medical humanities and bioethics Prof. Alice Dreger attended her son’s high school class in East Lansing, Michigan on April 15 and live-tweeted the abstinence-themed curriculum.

Dreger uploaded 45 tweets, criticizing the class instructors for presenting a conservative agenda full of “sexual shaming,” the professor told The Daily. The tweets, which garnered hundreds of favorites and retweets, have sparked discussion about sex education.

East Lansing High School does not use an abstinence-only program, Dreger said. However, last Wednesday’s class was taught by a guest speaker from Sexually Mature Aware Responsible Teens, a group affiliated with the Christian non-profit Pregnancy Services of Greater Lansing, that visits schools to teach abstinence.

Dreger said the speaker identified only two types of stories: “happy stories” of abstinence and “tragedies” of non-abstinence.

In one of her tweets, she wrote, “The whole lesson here is ‘sex is part of a terrible lifestyle. Drugs, unemployment, failure to finish school — sex is part of the disaster.’”

Dreger said the instructors were teaching misleading information about using condoms. The students were told to pick a number and were given paper babies representing condom failure each time the number was rolled on a die, Dreger tweeted.

“What they were teaching was that condoms fail all the time, birth control fails all the time,” Dreger told The Daily. “They were giving the message that every sixth time a man and woman have sex with a condom, the woman will get pregnant.”

Dreger stressed the importance of talking honestly about sex with children so they can be properly educated. Sex education teachers should embrace reality and provide students with accurate information so students feel comfortable trusting adults, Dreger said.

“What they were teaching is completely contrary to the evidence,” she said.

Dreger also criticized sexual activists who promoted their own political or religious agendas when discussing sex with students.

In a letter posted on the East Lansing Public Schools district website, Superintendent Robyne Thompson explained some of the district’s policies and commented on being respectful in a classroom setting.

“The Board welcomes and encourages visits to schools by parents, community members, business partners, Board members, and interested educators,” she wrote on the site.

Dreger tweeted April 16 that, following her messages about the sex education class, she had been banned from all East Lansing High School events unless they directly related to her son. The school told her it was because she swore in front of the class following the abstinence presentation, Dreger tweeted.

Thompson said in her statement that parents should adhere to the “civil behavior” that the school expects of its students.

“Parents are to be silent observers and not to participate or disrupt the learning process,” Thompson wrote. “Any inappropriate disruptive behavior by a visiting parent may result in that parent being prohibited from class or school participation in the future.”

Email: peterkotecki2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @peterkotecki

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