The Curriculum…that was the subject line in the email I sent to my pastor, the email that contained the most shocking and sickening information I had ever encountered in public education. I am a high school biology teacher in my fourth year of teaching in Oklahoma. When I first began my teaching career, I was unsure if I was even going the direction God wanted for me. My 18 year old son had just died in a tragedy I will wait to share another time. But, because of that fresh and excruciating loss, I had a mission from day one of my new job to make a difference. By the end of my first year, I wondered how I could have made such a monumental error in judgement. Clearly I was insane to take on 5 classrooms full of teenagers. Then, I fell in love with them…every single eye-rolling, dramatic, sensitive, dreaming, scheming, beautiful one of them! By the end of the second year (I don’t give up easily) I knew that I would give them my very best every day and protect them at every possible opportunity. They may as well have been my own children because I loved them just as much.
As a science teacher, I was aware that there might come a time when I would be called upon to include sexual education in my teaching. After all, human reproduction is the reason the students learn about genetics, heredity, and inheritance…so they know how more generations happen. I love science. God made it and it is chaotic and beautiful! I knew if I was asked, it would be an opportunity to deliver the instruction with discretion and an emphasis on the beautiful design of our Creator. During my first three years at that school, the students would be pulled out of class for a couple of days and sent to the auditorium. When they returned, I would spend the next few days cleaning up sperm-shaped foam stress balls and packages of condoms from my classroom floor. Honestly, that should have been my first red flag, but I was still figuring out my teaching style and learning how to reach my students effectively.
At the beginning of year four, last fall, the teachers were switching to distance learning in compliance with our city’s Covid-19 regulations. Our curriculum was in a new form and I began reviewing it as soon as the lessons were released to us. You usually learn in your first year how bad things can go if you offer lessons you have not reviewed ahead of time. (Let me just testify that a title containing the words “high school lesson” does not always mean it is entirely appropriate for high schoolers…lesson learned!) Toward the end of the first semester’s lessons, there was a large note telling us we were required to set aside two weeks (yes, two weeks) right before Christmas break for sexual education instruction, but there were no lessons included.
Right away, I asked my administration what my role would be. Would I be teaching the lessons myself or would they teach the students outside of my class like in the past? If I would be teaching, I asked that I be given access to the curriculum as soon as possible, so I could prepare for effective delivery. I was told not to worry about it and that I would simply upload the preset lessons onto my online classroom page and attend the zoom meetings while someone else from the health department taught them. Whoah, hold on. Something didn’t feel right, so I pressed for access to the lessons again. I explained that anything on my classroom page would suggest to my students that I endorsed the material. I needed to review the material before I could endorse it. After repeated, unanswered requests and about two weeks before the class was to begin, they finally made the curriculum available (only to teachers) to upload and I immediately opened it to start looking through the lessons.
I made it about 5 minutes into the introduction video before I pressed the pause button. I needed to take a breath. Within those first five minutes, the video had introduced several supposed genders (I’m a biologist and know the absurdity of that teaching) and defined just as many different sexual orientations, described exploring and embracing different sexual orientations in high school as sexually healthy, and led them through a meditation exercise that encouraged them to imagine being a different gender or sexual orientation and how good that might feel. I summoned the nerve to view the rest of the lessons. Although there was helpful information here and there, it was embedded in message after message of worldly thinking that violated Scripture. There was no way I was allowing this to be delivered to my students. It was harmful on many levels. It would be child abuse to deliver it. I sat there shaking and cried as I told my husband that I was about to do something that could cost me my job. He agreed that I could not be silent. Thank you, God, for my husband.
I immediately texted my principal and told her I refused to allow the sex ed curriculum in my class, and that if it was placed on my site against my wishes I would resign. Then, I had a moment of monumental bravery and composed a letter to the parents of my biology students. I told them that the school district was not being honest about what was being taught to their child and that much of the information was even hidden from parents. I also told them that they had the authority to decide what their children learned and, as a Christian, I could not keep this information from them. I offered them access to the lessons, so they could make their own informed decision about whether their student should or should not opt out. Then I pressed the send button. I knew what I was risking, but according to Matthew 18:6 my penalty for remaining silent would be so much worse than anything the world could do to me. I wasn’t sure what would happen next, but I was strangely unafraid and ready to see this through.