Summary of my complaints against LISD’s use of Austin LifeGuard as a sex ed provider
LISD’s Consideration of other programs and the SHAC
- Lack of easy access to SHAC standards by which they compare sex education programs/providers
- Unclear history of LISD approving Austin LifeGuard as a provider before they started using them
- Lack of equivalent standards for sex ed in view of LISD excellent scholastic reputation.
- While comparing ourselves to other districts is not always appropriate, it is concerning that we find ourselves in an ever-shrinking group of districts using Austin LifeGuard
Lack of Pedagogical Experience & External Review
- No one on their staff is experienced in curriculum development
- Using an association of colleagues to “review” their curriculum rather than a non-biased third party
- Information based on personal oriented belief systems rather than scientific evidence
- I’ve spoken with experts in the field of Health Education and Teen Pregnancy prevention and they responded that Austin LifeGuard is “the worst of the worst” and their curriculum is “truly horrendous.”
Transparency & Texas Law
- Requires reasonable access to materials for sex ed courses provided by schools. Austin LifeGuard’s “proprietary” stance on their material goes against this by refusing electronic distribution
- Leander ISD’s solution by placing copies, that are not regularly updated, in school libraries are not reasonable for all parents as work schedules conflict with school schedules. “Reasonable access,” in this day and age, should include online/electronic access.
Sexism and Rape Culture Issues
- Overtly stating that girls should be kept ignorant of their bodies to keep them from “using it to their advantage”
- Comparing women to trash cans in the sexual act
- Their graphic on the “stages of arousal,” teaching girls and boys that boys get aroused extremely early & girls extremely late in the stages and adding the commentary that boys actually need to encourage girls to get there thus promoting the idea that girls have no sexual agency
- Stages of arousal slide commentary also teaches boys that they shouldn’t be surprised is a girl is not aroused at first and thus of course they need to “encourage them” if they want to have sex. With 14 confirmed sexual assaults in Vista Ridge alone, this is dangerous.
Religious/Spiritual Diversity Issues
- They are a Christian only organization using the tenets of their faith to pass on a specific agenda with little to no input from other spiritual points of view
- LISD should be open to the growing diversity of our district
- Their basis of information is not evidence based on controversial topics such as abortion and gender-oriented arousal
Title IX Issues: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
- Director specifically stated their belief that access to information on ovulation shouldn’t be provided in sex ed because girls would use it to their advantage to have sex and get pregnant.
- This is deliberate withholding of information based on gender.
- This is also discrimination as it points to one gender as being better off uninformed.
- Instructors “unfortunate” comparison of women and trash cans
- Discrimination, blatant
- False information about female condom usage
- Discrimination by way of keeping one gender uninformed
- Anti-abortion propaganda disproportionally affects young girls as it shames them into making decisions without the advice of medical experts and with no scientific evidence supporting such claims
- Withholding of factual, reality-based sex education disproportionally affects girls with single mothers, especially young ones, falling into lower socioeconomic groups.
Separation of Church and State: Students may be taught about religion, but public schools may not teach religion.
- Having a Christian organization, led by a pastor, teach in public school goes directly against the idea of separation of church and state. This deliberately uses public schools as a forum for a specific religion’s viewpoints on sex, relationships, and contraceptives as evidenced by the choice in anti-abortion propaganda over biology.
- Picking an organization, led by a pastor, using a specific religion’s moral base discriminates against other religions in our district thus enforcing the idea of a church sponsored religion
- Also, by promoting a religious organization that reviews student questions and only picks ones they want to answer, they are limiting students free-speech rights to their own religious opinion and show a lack of teaching experience that should be required.
- “10. Outsiders may not be given access to the classroom to distribute religious or anti-religious literature. … religious groups must be allowed to do so on equal terms subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.”
- Austin LifeGuard’s distribution of material to students is blatantly illegal in this way as they do not include views from other religions or non-religious spiritual groups on sex education.
- “Teaching Values: 16. Schools may teach civic virtues, including honesty, good citizenship, sportsmanship, courage, respect for the rights and freedoms of others, respect for persons and their property, civility, the dual virtues of moral conviction and tolerance and hard work. Subject to whatever rights of excusal exist (see #15 above) under the federal Constitution and state law, schools may teach sexual abstinence and contraception; whether and how schools teach these sensitive subjects is a matter of educational policy. However, these may not be taught as religious tenets. The mere fact that most, if not all, religions also teach these values does not make it unlawful to teach them.”
- Using a religious organization led by a Christian borders if not crosses into teaching religious tenets as they teach falsehoods such as the negative physical and mental effects of abortion as they see them with no significant scientific merit to back these claims up. Using opinion as stated fact equates to teaching religious tenets.
Alternate Texas Program
- Big Decisions, bigdecisions.org. Free to use. Online access to materials. Written by a doctor with a master’s in public health. Recommended by Dr. David Wiley, PhD Health Education. Approved for us in 26 other Texas school districts.
Other Sex Education Programs for consideration as stated by US Dept of Health and Human Services:
EVIDENCE-BASED PROGRAMS MODELS
Click program title for more information
|PROGRAM NAME||EVALUATION SETTING|
|Aban Aya Youth Project||Middle school|
|Adult Identity Mentoring (Project AIM)||Middle school|
|All4You!||High school, Specialized setting|
|Assisting in Rehabilitating Kids (ARK)||Specialized setting|
|Be Proud! Be Responsible!||After school program or community-based organization|
|Be Proud! Be Responsible! Be Protective!||Middle school, High school|
|Becoming a Responsible Teen (BART)||After school program or community-based organization|
|Children’s Aid Society (CAS) — Carrera Programs||After school program or community-based organization|
|¡Cuídate!||After school program or community-based organization|
|Draw the Line/Respect the Line||Middle school|
|Families Talking Together (FTT)||Clinic-based|
|Health Improvement Projects for Teens (HIP Teens)||After school program or community-based organization|
|Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education||Middle school, High school|
|It’s Your Game: Keep it Real (IYG)||Middle school|
|Making a Difference!||After school program or community-based organization|
|Making Proud Choices!||After school program or community-based organization|
|Project IMAGE||Health Clinic|
|Project TALC||After school program or community-based organization|
|Promoting Health Among Teens! Abstinence-Only Intervention||After school program or community-based organization|
|Promoting Health Among Teens! Comprehensive Abstinence and Safer Sex Intervention||After school program or community-based organization|
|Raising Healthy Children (formerly known as the Seattle Social Development Project)||Elementary school|
|Reducing the Risk||High school|
|Respeto/Proteger||After school program or community-based organization|
|Rikers Health Advocacy Program (RHAP)||Specialized setting|
|Safer Choices||High school|
|Safer Sex||Health clinic|
|Sexual Health and Adolescent Risk Prevention (SHARP) (formerly known as HIV Risk Reduction Among Detained Adolescents)||Specialized setting|
|Sisters Saving Sisters||Health clinic|
|STRIVE||After school program or community-based organization|
|Teen Health Project||After school program or community-based organization|
|Teen Outreach Program (TOP)||High school|
|Seventeen Days||Health clinic|