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Worried About the “Revision” to the Health Care Curriculum

After reading today’s article about the health curriculum being proposed in Helena, I find myself concerned that Sean Hannity and shrill bigotry are going to prevent students from receiving important information that might keep them safe.

This passage seems to suggest that the district is knowingly choosing to put the health of children aside to appease its ill-informed critics:

Messinger is referring to page 45, where in fifth grade the current proposal says students will “understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.”
“We aren’t going to show them how to have anal penetration,” Messinger said in a Thursday interview. “We had that in there for STDs.”
Messinger told Grossman the intent is to introduce the risks associated with sexual activity at a time when adolescents are becoming sexually active.
He said Thursday, however, that this portion of different forms of sexual intercourse will not be introduced in fifth grade in the edited version.

It seems that I am reading the following: this section wasn’t prurient; we included it to prevent sexually transmitted diseases; we are going to take it out of the document.

I’m also troubled to learn that the district plans to remove a line that teaches students that people can love people of the same gender:

Messinger said that particular phrase — about how human beings can love people of the same gender and people of another gender — will be removed in the revised version, and that most of the edits are in the reproductive, human sexuality and nutrition sections.

One has to wonder if the district doesn’t have plans to adopt Texas’s US history curriculum next. If anything, the past week’s hateful, juvenile Tea Party homophobia teaches us the importance of this line in the curriculum. It’s not a value judgment or the imposition of some SCARY GAY AGENDA to teach children facts. The fact is that people do love others of the same gender and we should encourage children to realize that everyone should be treated with respect and human decency.

I’ll certainly go review the changes on Tuesday night, but this article is disconcerting. Public input is always welcome in curriculum decisions, but informed, research-based answers must be how we educate our children. Irrational fear and pathetic attempts to gin up notoriety are something else entirely.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • The problem with classroom sex ed is that it kids are of wildly varying maturity levels at fifth grade, so while some of them need this information, others may not be ready for it. On the other hand, I do think schools need to provide answers to questions that children are having, because parents won't always do that. When I was in 5th grade, they brought in a doctor and had us ask questions, basically whatever we were curious about. I think it worked pretty well, frankly.

    But as for homosexual relationships, I really don't understand what's half objectionable about that. It's a plain fact that people fall in love with others of the same gender. Even from a conservative Christian perspective, why wouldn't you tell your children about an activity you find sinful and tragic, knowing that otherwise they are eventually going to watch a rerun of Will and Grace and come to their own conclusions about homosexuality without your input?

  • Yep, and there it goes. In enlightened states like New York, they have a TRANS-inclusive anti-bullying law. Here in Montana, we don't even want to acknowledge that queer people exist, or even worse… that it's OKAY.

  • I mean, I don't expect us to teach kids in school that queer people are A-Okay; that's a normative statement directly in conflict with most parents. But I also don't see the justification, from any mainstream conservative perspective, in denying the objective fact that heterosexuality, though a solid majority, is not the exclusive orientation of humans. After all, I'm sure these folks are convinced that there is some objective reason queer orientations are inferior, in which case teaching about them objectively ought to make the situation all the more clear, no?

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