A Nebraska State Board of Education District 5 representative, a man called Kirk Penner, is claiming that Lincoln Public Schools is hiding classroom content from moms and dads. Penner sent a letter to the district and noted that, without parental knowledge, the district encouraged minor children to use a Plan B abortion pill and which clinic to visit to hide medical treatments from parents.
Penner said everyone involved in education should be supportive of parents who want to take an active role in their children’s education, but transparency and communication with parents about “controversial content” the district chooses to teach needs to “greatly improve.”
In July, Penner said he testified before the Nebraska Legislature’s Education Committee that regardless of what law it passed or what policy a district creates, “there are always ways around actually respecting a parent’s role in their child’s upbringing.”
According to Penner’s letter, on Sept. 28, Planned Parenthood was scheduled to give a presentation to the Human Behavior class about STDs and how they spread at Lincoln Southwest High School. The organization also planned an activity with students regarding safe sex behaviors.
The presentation was pulled by the district when parents voiced concerns and were denied the chance to attend the presentation due to “school safety and the desire to minimize distraction to learning.”
Penner claimed in his letter that Emily Weber of Family Health Services was invited to present on Oct. 2 about “boundaries, safe sexual behaviors and what Family Health Services does for the community.”
Weber opened her presentation by informing the kids that if a “16-year-old would show up at the clinic and wanted services, the clinic wouldn’t have to run their parent’s insurance and if a parent or guardian would call and ask whether their child received services at the clinic, Family Health Services was not under any obligation to confirm or deny if their child received services at the clinic.”
Penner said Weber also told students the clinic had around 800 free Plan B abortion pills floating around in the storage room.
“Since it is expensive, please stop by and we can help you out,” Penner claimed Weber said.
Penner also wrote that Weber said the clinic has “plenty of lube and condoms and the clinic tried to keep 10,000 condoms on hand at all times” and “they are coming out of our ears.”
Weber had students participate in an activity about boundaries, Penner continued in his letter. Minor children were given a set of eight questions about boundaries and students were told not to put their names on the worksheet. Each question had three possible answers:
*Describes me completely
*Describes me somewhat
*Doesn’t describe me at all
Penner wrote that one question asked, “I think if one person wants to try something new sexually, the other person should at least be willing to try it once.” Another was “I think that if you’re in a relationship with someone you kind of ‘belong’ to each other. I should be able to touch them, and they should be able to touch me — whenever, and wherever, we want.”
Kids turned in their worksheets and they were shuffled and redistributed to other kids. Weber placed three signs around the room with the three answer choices printed on them. Each question was asked again and each kid was to stand by the sign that contained the answer on their worksheet.
“This is a classic manipulation tool using the power of suggestion,” Penner wrote. “By forcing the minor children to stand by a sign they did not necessarily agree with, put them under stress and increased internal pressure. By visually separating the students, it places the thought in some of the students’ minds that they may not be normal or start to question their personal and family beliefs if they did not answer the question the way most of the kids answered.”
Kids were forced to split into pairs and discuss the worksheet and the similarities or differences of the worksheet they were holding.
“Let me be abundantly clear, it is disgusting and might be criminal to force children to ‘pair up’ and discuss the question, ‘I think that if you’re in a relationship with someone you kind of ‘belong’ to each other. I should be able to touch them, and they should be able to touch me, whenever and wherever we want,'” Penner wrote.
Penner said Weber told the classroom teacher in an email that the LPS curriculum specialist was asking for a meeting regarding some issues that came from the presentation. Weber claimed the presentation was approved by LPS previously and it has “obviously” been done “many times.”
Penner wrote the description of the presentation was “speak with students about boundaries, safe sexual behaviors and what Family Services does for the community.”
Penner wants to know which staff member(s) at LPS believe it is a good idea to tell kids where to get lube, condoms and abortion pills without a parents’ knowledge. He wants to know if parents were requesting LPS to inform minors about where to get lube, condoms and abortion pills. He wants to know why LPS removed the Planned Parenthood presentation but allowed the Family Health Services presentation.
The class is required for graduation, Penner noted. The description for the class states it will “actively discuss domestic violence, healthy/unhealthy relationships, privilege, oppression and any topics that come up during class time surrounding said topics.”
“As a side note, let’s be clear that the word privilege in the class description is white privilege,” Penner wrote. “And white privilege is being taught in this same human behavior class throughout LPS.”
The school believes it is being transparent because it gives an outline of what is being taught and provides an option of an alternative assignment or alternative placement, Penner wrote. But the teacher, a person called Sarah Morrow, tells parents she can “figure out” an alternative assignment or alternate placement during class time. Morrow is “vague” about lessons and suggests to parents it will take extra effort on the part of the teacher to find an alternative.
Penner asked why parents are really being prohibited from attending such presentations.
“Why is LPS hiding specific class lessons,” he asked. “Why does it always take being caught by a concerned parent to make a change in curriculum? True transparency isn’t hard to accomplish if the desire is there.”
Penner closed by requesting an “opt-in” policy for the Human Behavior class.
“Let parents know every discussion point and specifically what is being taught in that class every single day,” he wrote. “Allow the parents to decide. Have alternate classes available with detailed information about what will be taught. Don’t hide curriculum from the parents or public.”