Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mosaic Rel8 and CJHS - Dialogue is Key

Mosaic has rallied their base and posted a response to my open letter. As you can see, I am accused of lying, which I certainly do not feel I have done.

I have only made claims of what my daughter relayed to me about the class, and the things I have learned from their website and Facebook page about the organization.  I am certainly open to hearing where I lied, and if I have I will certainly apologize. I do not want a religious group proselytizing in our school district, but I do not want to accomplish their removal through any form of deceit or misdirection.  I desire an open honest dialogue.

Mosaic PHC does not want dialogue.  Her mother posted the following comment on the post I displayed above:

My daughter attends the participating school that you reference here and it is a public school. I have taken a screen shot of your post. I find it interesting that you call yourself abstinence education when the school refers to what you do as sex education. Those are two very different types of education. One is science based and one has religious motivation. I have no problem with you teaching abstinence based education to your youth groups, your church rallies... Your private schools... But I do have a problem when you come into a public school with a religious agenda. Right, wrong, or indifferent my husband and I would not be fighting this had the school sent home an opt out letter being honest about what they intended to allow. We would have just opted our daughter out of the program. Other people I know would have taken up the offense while also not letting their child participate. It is humorous to me that you call my husband a liar. We are the ones who feel lied to by the school our daughter attends. They never told us the "sex education" would be abstinence education.

I grew up going to private Christian schools. I had abstinence education foisted upon me. I know what it is you believe & I understand why you do what you do. I could have raised my children in this environment, but I chose & continually choose not to. It is one of the reasons why my husband and I send our children to public schools.

I don't want my children thinking young earth creationism is a valid alternative to evolution nor do I want them to fear sexual relations outside of marriage. I know you disagree with me, but I believe relationships help you on your own road to self discovery. No young adult should have to hurry thru this process and grow up too quickly via marriage which is what abstinence until marriage propagates. I don't want my daughter getting married until she has had all the time in the world to figure out who she is. Telling her she has to wait until marriage to have sex hurries up that process because sex is natural and we all are born with curiosity and curiosity leads us to places where we get to come face to face with who we are & make the decisions we want to make and grow from there.

If my husband and I don't fight this fight my daughter will think we agree with what is being taught because we have sent her to this school... By not fighting we are guilty by association. She may make assumptions about how it is I feel and she may not feel comfortable coming to me with questions about her budding sexuality; she may think that I want her to wait. If she does not come to me, the chances are high that she won't get the information on disease & child prevention that she needs to stay safe and child free. She is also not likely to go to a place that will help her stay protected without my knowledge. My daughter will more than likely end up with the very things you don't want for her, like STD's & unwanted pregnancy.

Your scare tactics don't help prevent the things you strive to eliminate... They just silence the young adult. Young adults are going to do what they are going to do... History proves this. Abstinence education has been taught for years...to no avail. Teens are still getting pregnant & getting STD's. Why not tell people that sex is normal and natural and that we can help you protect yourself when you feel ready? I know your answer... It is against your religion... Which brings me full circle... I don't send my daughter to public school for a religious education... And that, Mosaic, is where you are guilty of being the liars.

You feel you have a mandate from your God to infiltrate places where the constitution has clearly given you no access. What you are doing is an insidious violation of the separation between church and state. I should have to take my child, extracurricularly, to another place to get your type of education... I should get to choose this for my child... But my right to choose it for my child was taken away by you and now I am having to fight to get you out. This is not how this should work. As Christians you would be aghast to find that your children were getting Islamic ideas on marriage forced upon them in their sex Ed classes... Why can't people like you see that you do the same thing that you hate?
I do not feel her mother was rude, or condescending. I feel like her post was an open invitation to dialogue. Mosaic did not feel the same. Her comment was removed, and she was blocked from the site.

Our meeting with the CJHS principal went NOTHING like my wife's attempt to reach out to Mosaic.  Although the meeting did not resolve the issue of this group continuing to have access to preach their message and instill their shame based rhetoric; it did open doors to further discussion with the school.  I do feel very confident, this program will be removed from District 118, and a program which is in compliance with state law will replace it.

This does not mean I am washing my hands and declaring the matter finished.  I am continuing up the administration to lobby for sex education that is in compliance will Illinois law. I now have been provided a copy of the curriculum and I will be reading it, and presenting my thoughts to the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum here in District 118.   I am willing if necessary to face the school board with my concerns, however after the positive meeting this morning, I do not feel that will be necessary.  As has always been my experience with District 118 in the past, the school is open and participatory in this dialogue. the

I do believe dialogue is key for all stake holders.  I want to invite Kathy Sparks, Julie Mayfield, Megan Tinney, and any other stakeholders in Mosaic's mission to an open dialogue.  I would love to have lunch, here in Belleville or over in Granite City; I will even buy.  Although we certainly disagree on methodology and meaning, I believe in dialogue you will see we are ALL interested in the best future for our area's youth.  Access to youth is a great responsibility; If you want to preach your message to my children, I only hope you will be willing to meet with me.  Dialogue is key, and the invitation in in your court.

EDIT 12/15/2014: My daughter's mother and I have separated since this post was written. I have edited my language to reflect that, but left her's in tact as posted to ReL8.  Her mother and I remain close to each other and will continue to be joint allies in the raising of all our children. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Troll Feeding: My response to Abby.

After my previous two posts I had a woman I don't know respond on a Facebook post I had made.  I wanted to take a few moments to quickly respond here.

"I went to mosiac when I found out I was pregnant. They never spoke to me about religion."

I am very glad you found the support you needed at Mosaic PHC, I am quite sure that the world needs organization that offer all kinds of opinions.  I will say though, that you testimony makes them liars to the many 100s of people who support their ministry.  I have spent quite a lot of time on their website and Facebook these past few days and their claim is every woman is "shared the gospel of Christ"  If this did not happen, that means you were used, since the organization is making claims about your experience that are not true.

They spoke about the safest practices. Abstinence. 

Perhaps if you had read my posts you would see that I have no issue with abstinence.  You are correct that unless you're theotokos abstinence works; so long as it is practiced.  The issue is when it is no longer practiced.  See evidence shows that abstinence education programs do not stop teens from having sex, it only leaves them unprepared when the time comes where they do begin sexual activity.

They gave real facts about stds and plan b. How BC hormones can harm you. They are well educated and great educators. 

Sorry, you lost me on the "how birth control is harmful" and great educators.  You're going to have to choose one or the other.  Again, that pesky evidence keeps popping up.  Rumors about the harmful effects of birth control have been debunked repeatedly.  In the medical world lying about a drug causes you to lose your license and livelihood;  generally speaking under that threat people do not hide the real facts.  It does creep in and it is quickly rooted out and repudiated. This is the real facts.

Yes they are faith based. So what! I was offered a Bible when I left.  I'm glad they were there.

I have no issue with Faith based organizations. I am glad you were offered a Bible as you left. I am also glad you found the support you needed in a difficult time.  Different people have different needs, and I am glad you found the place which met your needs.  In political philosophy we call this "free association."  Free association is the right of individuals to form social contracts and the freedom for the individual to secede from those contracts when they no longer seem beneficial to the individual.  I have certain social and religious institutions that I also practice free association with.  So long as the terms of the social contract with a faith based organization is rooted in free association I support that organization.

People need to chill out.

I'm going to skip this one, since in the entire basis of your point is that this organization has the right to it's message, but I do not have the right to respond.  That seems both disingenuous and hypocritical.  I am sure the ability to write such a lengthy response with out actually reading my posts demonstrates you are not the kind of person who fires off disingenuous and hypocritical rants, so we will just pretend it is not there.

 I'm sorry but its ok to talk about condoms and sex but not about abstinence and religion.

Once again, if you had actually read my posts there is NOTHING against abstinence or religion in
either of them.  The problem with programs like this is they violate the "free association" that I wrote about earlier.  When a particular religion is given preference in the secular classroom that violates the free association of religion.  My religious view differ from the instructors. Fortunately there is medically accurate evidence based  material available for the classroom; and everyone is left to teach their values in a free association environment.

Open your eyes people, we need more religion in our world...cuz its blowing up with out it!!!

You feel the world is "blowing up" because it needs more religion.  I think Martin Luther King Jr more accurately surmised the state of the world when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  I think what the world needs is love and justice. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.  

I am going to keep demanding for justice.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Belleville District 118 - Masturbation, Morality, Manipulation, & Malfeasance

On Thursday I sent a strongly worded letter to the administration of my daughter's school regarding a
teacher who instructed her class that "masturbation is a form of self harm."  As my daughter and I continued to discuss the program over the following two days I once asked her, "Has Ms. Tinney (the instructor) said anything else that would concern you?"

"She always uses boyfriend or husband. Not once has she said partner or significant other."

This sent the red flags waiving in my head; not that using boyfriend and husband are wrong to use, just the unwavering hetero-normative language confirmed my suspicion that this teacher had an agenda.

Sure enough, with research and dissection my suspicions were confirmed.  The instructors warnings against masturbation had nothing to do with sex education and everything to do with proselytizing a particular pro-life Christian morality to public school students.

 Meet Rel8. "The ReL8 program exists to influence youth as they pursue a lifestyle of saving sex for marriage. " and "Our core values are a set of unchanging beliefs or principles that guide and govern the decisions of ReL8. Uncompromising Integrity - living right at any cost,  Undeniable Relevance - being who we are in today’s world. Unwavering Excellence - nothing less than our best"

Although the Rel8 page was fairly sanitized, further surfing around the organization's support website made it very clear,  "Mosaic PHC is a Christ-centered organization that shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ and reveals His love through our words and compassionate care."
This group exists to proselytize.  The Rel8 program purpose is to instill their religious morality on adolescents under the guise of sex education.

Please do not mistake what I am saying. I am not opposed the work and ministry of this organization.  Mosaic PHC has every right under the law, and a responsibility under their  faith to provide the ministry and teachings they provide.  I am certain the Rel8 program is a wonderful method to teach adherents, to their faith system, the moral teachings of their understanding of their sacred texts.  Youth programs at church, Bible Studies, youth rallies, and youth camps are ideal settings for the message of the Rel8 program.

I am opposed to evangelism by manipulation.  I am opposed to marketing to schools a sex education class while promoting a mission that is wholly different. If you want to present your core values to students in the public school system then you should promote an opt-in after school program like Child Evangelism Fellowship, Boy Scouts of America, and other similar groups.  I believe the bible mentions lying as part of the ten commandments.

Which brings me to the District 118 school board allowing teaching that is in clear violation of Illinois Public Act 098-0441. Whether this is ignorance or intentional I don't know. However, the malfeasance remains the same; this school board is endorsing the proselytizing of a particular brand of Christianity under the guise of academic instruction and without the informed consent of the student's parents.

Mosaic PHC founder and president in an interview on teach.com states, "Condom-centered educators believe promoting birth control and contraceptives addresses all these needs. But schools try to prevent any type of teen risky behavior — drugs, alcohol, smoking. They’re not going to say, “We know you are going to smoke, so here’s a pack.” Sexual activity among teenagers is a risky behavior, but schools take a secondary approach. They say, “We don’t want you to, but if you are, just be safe about it.” Rel8 believes a primary approach is the best whether it’s sex, drugs or alcohol."

To Mosaic, sex is a morally corrupt activity, harmful in the same way drugs, alcohol, and smoking are harmful.  However, I challenge her to present me one peer reviewed study that shows sex damages organs, stunts brain development, or otherwise physically harms it's participants.

Morally speaking she is correct under her religious beliefs, however Illinois state law clarifies
material presented in school sexual education programs must be "Evidence-based and medically accurate." Mosaic fearing this reality writes on their Facebook page that the proselytizing Rel8 program is jeopardized by using science and evidence as the measure for school sexual educational program.

Thankfully, Illinois has laws like this in place, unfortunately The District 118 Board of Education has chosen to ignore both the law and our student's civil rights by allowing Rel8 to continue "ministering" in our schools. Evidence based medically accurate information should not be the standard only because it is the law, but instead our Board of Education should want our children educated not evangelized. I am sorry to learn that the current program ignores the education in favor of the evangelism.

Mosaic PHC must be removed from our schools. Their manipulation and deceit must be called out for what it is. Our classrooms should be places of fact and evidence, not religious beliefs or principles.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Open Letter to Belleville District 118 on Sexual Traumatizing of Female Students

I have been silent.  Despite the overwhelming body of evidence that dress codes derived from the sexualitization of young girls result in clinical depression, eating disorders, reduced cognitive function, sexual dysfunction and professional inhibition[i]; I have not said anything.  I have chosen to combat the misinformation being internalized by my daughter, as a result of your dress codes which have no basis in social research, at home.  However, my daughter’s report of what is going on in the health class she has recently began will not allow me to remain silent any longer.

According to my daughter’s retelling of the instructor’s lesson, she told them that "self-pleasure is a form of self harm," and like all other forms of sex it should be avoided.  I was aghast, even first telling her there was no way this was being sanctioned and taught in a 21st century public school classroom. Yes, Kellog, Freud, and others taught this kind of nonsense in the early twentieth century but a hundred years of medical and psychology research has thoroughly debunked and rebutted these unscientific ideas.[ii]

Current research finds that masturbation in adolescent girls is an early indicator of future sexual health.  “One of the best predictors of whether a woman will be able to achieve orgasm in her sexual relations is a history of masturbation in adolescence.”[iii]  This kind of misinformation and stigmatization of natural and beneficial human behavior is counterproductive in society’s goal to create safe healthy sexual beings. As Masters and Johnson wrote “Although masturbation is the safest sex of all, negative feelings that may be associated with it can threaten one’s individual health and well-being.”[iv]

With the preponderance of research supporting the fact that self pleasure increases abstinence levels, improves sexual health, and reduces spread of STIs[v] it is unacceptable you would employ an instructor who would teach these thoroughly debunked and puritanical ideas.

This brings me full circle to my original criticisms of the district’s dress code.[vi] This dress code perpetuates rape culture by sexualizing our daughters and making them responsible for the “distraction” of their male peers. It is not a far stretch from, “It’s your fault he can’t concentrate on his school work;” to “It is your fault he could not control himself and sexually assaulted you.” I wonder about the harmful attitudes being forced on these young women.  Are we teaching these girls to play their sexually inhibited gender role, while teaching the glory of the male conquest in our male health classes? Are the young men also being taught that masturbation is a form of self harm; or is this attitude reserved for castigating our daughters into their proper gender roles?

I am including below a further reading section.  Parts are taken from the previously referenced research and others from additional source material available online.

For the sake of our daughters and their future as the women of our society it is your task to educate them using science, not myths and stigmatizations.   

Thank you,
Kevin J. Bowman and Christi L. Bowman


Dress Coded: An education on Unnecessary Sexualization - http://sophieologie.me/2014/05/16/dress-coded-education-sexualization/

EMAILED 10-23-14 To:
Rock Horrighs - CJHS Principal - rhorrighs@belleville118.org
Lacey Schmersahl - CJHS Dean of Students - lschmersahl@belleville118.org
Tim Baum - CJHS PE Instructor - tbaum@belleville118.org
Joan Hasenstab - Raider Way Instructor  - jhasebstab@belleville118.org
Wendy Gallaher - Learning Lab Instructor - wgallaher@belleville118.org
Matt Klosterman - District Superintendent - mklosterman@belleville118.org

[v] ibid
[vi] As a side note, it is unacceptable that I as a parent can not find a copy an actual copy of said dress code on the district website. Without a clear and defined document available to me I am left to assume the enforcement is arbitrary and subjective.