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Fighting the Sexualization of Children

** This show originally aired in June 2020 **

Instruction in middle and high school on human anatomy, development, and sexuality has been occurring for decades, but in recent years, this instruction has taken a more explicit and dangerous turn. Schools are being pushed by far-left groups like Planned Parenthood and Southern Poverty Law Center to radically change their sex-ed curricula to include information that should, in most cases, be shared with students by a parent rather than a teacher.

Our friends at the Family Research Council are working to raise the alarm about these radical changes, and FRC’s Senior Fellow and Director of Human Dignity Cathy Ruse recently wrote a report on this subject, titled Sex Education in Public Schools: Sexualization of Children and LGBT Indoctrination. Cathy Ruse joins NC Family President John Rustin on this week’s episode of the Family Policy Matters radio show and podcast to discuss this report.

“The idea that children have sexual rights is part of the new sex ed,” warns Ruse. “And there is this idea that’s a new trend in teaching: consent. So as long as you get consent for a sex act, then that’s the highest moral imperative. This discounts altogether that even if there is some sort of consent, engaging in sexual activities on the part of children is harmful.”

“And it does sexualize kids; it does confuse kids; it’s very manipulative. […] And parents are left in the dark. More than that, parents are seen as the enemy. These programs want to get direct access to kids; they want parents out of the way. […] There are good psychological organizations out there that call this child abuse, and I agree with them.”

Tune in to Family Policy Matters this week to hear Cathy Ruse explain how this new sex ed aims to sexualize children, and how we can fight against it.

Family Policy Matters
Transcript: Fighting the Sexualization of Children

JOHN RUSTIN: Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. Many of us may recall those slightly uncomfortable days in middle or high school when we received instruction about human growth and development, anatomy and yes, human sexuality. Well today, students are by and large being exposed to something entirely different, and this instruction is causing great concern for parents and students across our nation. Of course, this is not a new battle, but we are seeing growing efforts to push the envelope further and further when it comes to what our students—our children—are being taught about human sexuality. And this has prompted a national pro-family organization to raise the alarm again about radical changes taking place in America’s public schools.

Cathy Ruse is a highly accomplished attorney and policy expert and serves as the Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow and Director of Human Dignity. Cathy recently authored a report entitled, Sex Education in Public Schools: Sexualization of Children and LGBT Indoctrination, and she joins us today on Family Policy Matters to discuss these alarming discoveries.

Cathy, welcome to Family Policy Matters. It’s great to have you with us on the show.

CATHY RUSE: Thank you so much. I’m glad to be here.

JOHN RUSTIN: Well, Cathy, as parents, I think most of us hope that schools are communicating truthfully and transparently about the material that is being covered in their sex education classes. After all, these are very sensitive and important topics, but your research indicates these programs often go far beyond just the basic facts of life. Correct?

CATHY RUSE: Absolutely correct. And this is research from parents reaching out to us at Family Research Council, from my own research on just what has been reported, and then also my local activism in Fairfax County, Virginia, where I’ve been on the ground with families and parents fighting the school board. So, we decided that we needed to report on what we were learning because we knew that many, many parents didn’t know for instance that schools are starting to introduce transgender ideology into sex ed. So, the message that children can be born in the wrong body, which is a horrifying message for kids. The idea that children have sexual rights is part of the new sex ed. And this idea that’s a new trend in teaching—consent—so that as long as you get consent for a sex act, then that’s sort of the highest moral imperative. Discounting altogether that even if there is some sort of consent, that engaging in sexual activities on the part of children is harmful. It’s really been a paradigm shift from what sex ed used to be. I’m not saying it was ever perfect, but it’s radically changed today.

JOHN RUSTIN: Well, no doubt about that. Now, Cathy, there seems to be a number of “buzzwords” that are used to drive the agenda in many of these sex education programs. Tell us about some of those “buzzwords” and why parents should be on guard when they hear these terms and phrases.

CATHY RUSE: Well, right. Great question. A new term that parents might not be familiar with is “sex positivity.” Many of these new sex ed programs are bending so far backwards to not shame students that they are going all the way to promoting sexual agency on the part of a child, on youth. So, “sex positivity,” certainly, “gender fluidity” and “gender identification.” “Reproductive justice,” maybe a term that is not familiar to parents, that just means abortion. And anytime you’re seeing words like “power” and “rights,” when it comes in the context of sex ed, it’s bad news. So, this is a direction sex ed is going today, and it’s extremely dangerous.

JOHN RUSTIN: Well, and the use of these ‘buzzwords,” I mean I think we’ve seen that for years and years. But it creates kind of a moving target, and it’s hard especially for parents who are not immersed in studying and researching these issues to really understand what’s going on until they dig into it, or until someone like yourself and Family Research Council digs into these issues and exposes what’s really going on. I know we’ve worked with families and communities around the state of North Carolina to help them become aware of and to engage especially with their local school boards when curricula like what you’re speaking about is proposed in schools across the state. So, this is not just something that’s happening across in California or up in New England, but it’s taking place in communities all around the country. So, it’s something that parents definitely need to be very aware of.

CATHY RUSE: You’re absolutely right about that, and I do cover North Carolina, what some of the schools there are doing. We have stories from Indiana, Tennessee. You know, it really is coming to a school near you, and all parents need to wake up and learn about what the new sex ed movement is all about.

JOHN RUSTIN: Yes. Cathy, what were you most shocked to discover is fairly commonplace, or what has become run-of-the-mill, so to speak, in today’s public-school sex education curriculum?

CATHY RUSE: Well, for me, the wake-up call really was the transgender ideology. That’s really what got my attention. When I heard on the radio that my local school board had just voted to let boys into the girls’ bathrooms and showers, that got my attention. The vote was 11 to 1. I thought, “Is there only one sane person on the school board?” And so, I started attending. I wanted to meet her and thank her, and that’s when I just saw people in positions of power on the school board playing politics with other people’s children, pushing policies that would affirm children who are confused about their sex, mandating speech, forcing people to use false pronouns, which is a serious violation of our religious beliefs and our rights as Christians. You know, we believe that God designed male and female, and it was a purposeful design, and if we are forced to use false pronouns or to even renounce our own pronouns, that’s really asking us to redact God and to swear allegiance to a false god.

I mean, it’s tremendously serious. So, these things are happening. What I’m talking about now is not necessarily in sex ed lessons, although all the language is being brought into sex ed, but these are also sexuality-related policy issues that are being imposed on kids in schools beyond sex ed. It’s really becoming part of the environment of the whole school in many cases, and there are good psychological organizations out there that call this child abuse, and I agree with them. Teaching kids that they could be born in the wrong body, it’s psychological child abuse. I will say that, and I’m going to get hit for saying that, but that’s what’s happening in public schools, and that’s what I think is the most radical change.

JOHN RUSTIN: Yeah. Well, and I think it’s important what you said, that even in some states parents may have the ability to opt their children out of these programs or classes, but even in those cases, their children may still be exposed to some of these harmful and dangerous materials and agendas because even if it doesn’t happen within the context of a sex education class, that this is a philosophy and an agenda that is permeating a lot of activities and arenas in our public schools. Well, I know that what you’ve discovered has led you to conclude that many of these programs are actually sexualizing children. Talk about that if you would.

CATHY RUSE: Sure. It’s sometimes difficult to talk about these things on the radio of course. Planned Parenthood, for instance, tells its students on its Tumblr page that there’s nothing bad or unhealthy about having a big number of sexual partners. This is part of the new sex ed. Now, the chief architect for this new sex ed is SIECUS, which is the Sexuality Information and Education Center in the U.S., and they’ve changed their brand to sex ed for social change. So, it’s not about information anymore; it’s not about education; it’s about activism, social change for reproductive justice, social change for gender fluidity. It’s all about creating sexual rights’ ideologues, who will go out then and change the culture. It’s really insidious. And sex ed and these sex identity policies are really ground zero for manipulating children to be cultural warriors, and parents are none the wiser.

JOHN RUSTIN: I know that you have spoken about the international influences that you have found that are involved in driving this agenda. Help us understand that.

CATHY RUSE: Well, I’ve mentioned one group already, which is SIECUS. And then of course, Planned Parenthood is international, Planned Parenthood Foundation of America. They have an outsized role. They claim to be the largest provider of sex ed in the country. And in my research and what I’m hearing from parents, it pops up all the time that their schools have adopted part or all of the Planned Parenthood sex ed program. There are others though that are big players, Southern Poverty Law Center, which we’ve heard about, the discredited anti-Christian hate profiteer. They have created something called, “Teaching Tolerance,” and they’ve mailed their best practices guide to every school principal in the nation, telling them how to have a queer school culture and how to make sure that your prom is LGBT inclusive, and so on and so forth. They’ve got lots of money, and they’re using it to make social change through sex ed. So, most of the nation’s influencers at the education level seem to have bought into this program. And it does sexualize kids; it does confuse kids; it’s very manipulative. I call it political, politicizing all of this, and parents are left in the dark. More than that, parents are seen as the enemy. These programs want to get direct access to kids; they want parents out of the way. And it’s often difficult to protect your kids from the material because as you mentioned, it’s coming at them from all different directions.

JOHN RUSTIN: Yeah. So, Cathy, what can and should parents do to help ensure the sex education program in their public schools are appropriate and in line with their values?

CATHY RUSE: Well, it’s time to be proactive. We have to be proactive. I mean, one of the things parents can do is promote good sex ed programs. There are good sex ed alternatives and a great resource for parents is a group called ASCEND, and their website is They champion sex ed alternatives that are known as “sexual risk avoidance.” That’s basically the term that has replaced abstinence because SIECUS and the rest of them have made the word “abstinence” a dirty word. So, parents, you’re going to have a door slammed in your face if you say, “I want more abstinence programs,” but you can say, “Sexual risk avoidance is what I want to see in our school.” And this group ASCEND has listed many programs that are in use in schools today and also the research on how those programs are effective. Taking that list, taking it to your school board, taking it to your county councilmen and your state rep and saying, “Are there any of these programs being used?” and, if not, “Why not?”

But the other thing I want to make sure to get in here is that parents can be proactive by filing a universal opt-out letter with the school every year. We provide that at the Family Research Council. It is a letter that says, “I don’t consent to my child being exposed to or to participating in any of these sexuality-related issues or assemblies or lessons.” And that really puts schools on notice that you’re watching, and you’re prepared to act if your wishes aren’t followed because it’s your right. You have a right to see the materials in advance. And this goes beyond just sex ed. You need to be the squeaky wheel and go and ask, “Ok, it’s a new month; I want to see everything that my child’s going to be learning this month.” They’re not going to like you, but that’s where we are today; you’ve got to be the squeaky wheel. Join with other parents and set out to review every single word, every video, every slide in your sex ed program. But that’s hard to tackle alone, so get a group of friends and review it and then spread the word, and try to help your child start a club at the school that would be a healthy, positive club. What we’re seeing is schools are being sort of taken over by Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. They’re becoming the dominant cultural force in a school. The NEA promotes these GSA clubs. The NEA even offers financial rewards for schools who set up GSA clubs; it’s all very connected. But that is a recruitment center for kids, especially with the gender fluidity and transgenderism. We’ve got to provide alternatives for children in public schools.

JOHN RUSTIN: Well, those are great recommendations and great information throughout our conversation, Cathy. And I’m so grateful for your work at FRC and the partnership that the North Carolina Family Policy Council has with the Family Research Council in Washington, DC. Cathy, we’re just about out of time, but before we go I want to give you an opportunity to let our listeners know where they can get a copy of this report, Sex Education in Public Schools: Sexualization of Children and LGBT Indoctrination.

CATHY RUSE: Oh, well, great. And it really is for parents, not only policymakers, but this is for parents. It’s, one word. And in that you will see, you will find the universal opt-out letter. That’s very important.

JOHN RUSTIN: With that Cathy Ruse, I want to thank you so much for being with us on Family Policy Matters and for sharing your important and insightful findings on this crucial topic.

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