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Special Report: Sex ed at 4J sparks controversy after faith-based group's lectures

A parent at Roosevelt Middle School, Nadine Batya, says her son was taught abstinence only lectures in school by an outside organization.

Posted: May 22, 2019 6:22 PM
Updated: May 22, 2019 6:27 PM

EUGENE. Ore. -- Sex education has been a part of American schools since the 1960s and to this day is still controversial, and the latest uproar is in Eugene schools.

A parent at Roosevelt Middle School, Nadine Batya, said her son was taught abstinence-only lectures in school by an outside organization. The group invited into Eugene School District 4J to teach sex ed is a faith-based pregnancy diagnosis clinic called Dove Medical.

Batya said a speaker from Dove tried to shame the kids into waiting to have sex and even compared it to an amusement park.

“If you have a ticket to Disneyland and you’re very excited because you’re taking a family trip to Disneyland and you get in in your car and you start driving and you pass a local amusement park like Enchanted Forest, don’t stop and ride those rides, wait because Disneyland is going to be so much better,” Batya said.

South Eugene High School student Connor Gabor agrees and said this specific group makes him feel left out because he is homosexual.

“The stuff they say is so shaming. It approaches sex as like, if you’re having sex in high school, think about your reputation and how it’s going to ruin your reputation. To me that’s not fair, and it's people that are survivors of sexual assault where it wasn’t even their choice is just wrong,” Gabor said.

The manager of Dove Medical, Dirk Weishaar, said his instructors never give students abstinence-only lectures and religion never enters the picture. He said they teach sexual risk education which is all about decision-making and critical-thinking skills.

According to state law, districts can promote abstinence as the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

However, teachers are not allowed to shame or use fear-based tactics.

Three years ago the 4J district adopted a sex ed curriculum called “Our Whole Lives,” which is supposed to be a comprehensive human sexuality program that is non-religious in nature.

Charis McGaughy, assistant superintendent for instruction in the 4J district, said teachers sometimes invite guest speakers to provide what she called “multiple perspectives.”

She said they have reviewed the Dove Medical curriculum and that the information was not supporting abstinence-only or any religious or faith-based promotion. She went on to say it was a curriculum designed to help students make healthy choices.

Over a two-month period earlier this year, Dove visited North Eugene High School, South Eugene High School, Churchill High School and Roosevelt Middle School.

Batya told KEZI 9 News she did not receive notice that Dove Medical was coming into her son’s school to speak about sex education ahead of time.

4J officials told KEZI 9 News parents are notified in the beginning of the year that their child will be receiving human sexuality education, but they are not always given detailed information about which guest speakers are coming in.

McGaughy said in the vetting process for speakers coming in to district schools, they make sure no religious beliefs are being promoted and the content and information that’s being presented is neutral.

A group called the Young Democrats of Lane County launched a petition demanding 4J not allow crisis pregnancy centers like Dove Medical into schools. It received thousands of signatures, something one of the organizers says speaks volumes.

Students brought the petition to a school board meeting in March, but Batya said their claims weren’t taken seriously.

“There was also a lot of blaming and shaming on our students and us as parents,” Batya said.

4J officials said they're working to make sure parents are given more timely and detailed information when guest speakers come into the schools.

Also, in a statement, the district said abstinence-only instruction is never allowed.

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