As concern over what children are being taught in schools grows, one Alabama organization is pushing for comprehensive sex education and is promoting resources many parents may find inappropriate.
The Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health is a non-profit dedicated to advocating for comprehensive sexual education across the state. It purports to "partner" with the Alabama State Department of Education.
Two high-ranking Alabama government officials sit on the organization's board – State Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey and State Health Officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Dr. Scott Harris. Both serve as ex officio members due to their positions within state government.
See also: State Education Superintendent Mackey name removed from controversial 'sexual education' campaign board – 'Never notified of the ex officio appointment'
Nancy Buckner, the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), also sits on the board in an ex officio capacity.
Among its partners, the Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health lists DHR, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, and many others.
The organization advocates for "age-appropriate" sexual education for Alabama students and offers multiple resources for accomplishing this goal.
"Access to this information is an important priority of and one we believe will assist Alabama communities in their efforts to champion healthy adolescent development," the Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health's website states.
The resources are divided by audience for students, parents and educators and by appropriate age groups.
One such resource is Amaze, which the organization claims to be for ages 10-14.
Amaze has several animated videos on dozens of topics, such as "Condom Negotiation," "Having Sex: Intimacy and Emotions," Does Penis Size Really Matter," "How To Be A LGBTQIA+ Ally," "How the Boner Grows," "Being Female, Male, Transgender or Fluid," "Abortion with pills: What is it?" "What are Pronouns?" and "Porn is not Sex Ed."
The videos are replete with depictions of various sexual scenarios and explicit images, including cartoon presentations of genitalia, ejaculation and condoms.
One such example can be found below.
Warning: Some may find this video to be offensive.
Porn Is Not Sex Ed from Amazing Amaze on Vimeo.
Despite several attempts to reach Mackey, he was unavailable and did not respond to 1819 News requests to determine if training or resources are currently being implemented in Alabama public schools.
However, the Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health boasts that it had the opportunity to "train over 440 individuals" in 2021 and has "partnered" with several state institutions, including the Alabama State Department of Education, DHR and the Alabama Association of School Nurses.
The Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health also lists county-by-county statistics on teen pregnancy in the state, along with data from the CDC, which details how many students in Alabama public schools are sexually active, how many students are using condoms, how many use birth control and how many have received testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
The priorities for the Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health include disavowing any legislation that removes the ability of transgender youth to receive hormone and surgical treatment.
"[T]he Alabama Campaign denounces any policy that would require teachers to tell parents if their child discloses to them their gender nonconformity. These policies would force LGBTQ+ students to 'come out' to their families, potentially exposing them to harmful and dangerous home life situations. It is essential that transgender and gender nonconforming students have safe spaces in their schools — confidential and free of discrimination," its website states.
It further explains how essential it is for children to have "trusted adults" in their lives, even if they are outside the home, such as with teachers.
In 2019, the Alabama Department of Education released updated guidelines on local school boards' duties in developing "age-appropriate" sex education in their perspective areas.
"This is the first time that the Alabama State Department of Education has recommended the local school systems develop their own sex education policy," the Campaigns site reads. "This guidance is an opportunity to develop policies that are evidence-informed, medically accurate, age-appropriate, inclusive and free of bias."
A recent law passed in the state, which bans discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in a way that is not "age-appropriate," is now being enforced in schools statewide.
However, since the determination of what is and is not "age-appropriate" is left up to local school boards, some parents are concerned about what those determinations may be.
According to State Board of Education vice president Wayne Reynolds, individual school boards will be responsible for determining sex education curricula.
"If you read in the change in the administrative code, the primary responsibility is now, and should be local school boards," Reynolds told 1819 News. "And if they lack compliance, the next level of action happens at the state level. We set administrative codes, and local school boards are required to enforce it.
"I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it. So, we kind of rely on local school boards in terms of age-appropriate to know it when they see it."
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