Last night's School Board meeting
By Scott Tibbs, May 4, 2005
The MCCSC School Board met last night to discuss budgetary matters, but the real story was what was not on the agenda. Dozens of parents and concerned citizens attended to express opposition to MCCSC's proposed sex survey. Parents and concerned citizens picketed the School Board meeting on Walnut Street before going in, and the line of protesters stretched nearly a block.
Mike Shipman of MCCSC was asked to provide an explanation for the survey at the beginning of the meeting. Shipman said that last year, parents expressed "grave concern" over anecdotal evidence of deviant sexual behavior in the middle schools. MCCSC would hold a series of meetings on the subject. (Shipman failed to mention that MCCSC and Planned Parenthood were determined to exclude parents from one such meeting with middle school children.)
Shipman said that MCCSC is working on a health curriculum to reduce "at-risk" behaviors in the same way that MCCSC reduced alcohol use in the mid-1990's. He said that in order to develop that curriculum, MCCSC will need data, and that MCCSC will conduct these surveys to get that data. Shipman also said in order to each abstinence, the children need to know what abstinence is. This is silly. Is MCCSC really so elitist to assume that children will not know to abstain from oral and anal sex if they are not instructed about it?
Opponents of the sex survey brought in a big name to help them: Eric Miller, a candidate for Governor in the 2004 Republican primaries and the founder of Advance America. Miller noted that the Indiana Code specifically requires prior written consent when the government schools are doing surveys such as this one. He also disagreed with the School Board's statements that government schools are not to teach morality. I appreciate that Miller was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to come down here and help us out.
As it turns out, the sex survey will be delayed until at least the fall semester. That, however, is not because MCCSC has suddenly decided to listen to the people's objections, but because Indiana University has delayed funding the survey. I am convinced that if the money was still there, the survey would proceed this month as planned.
Several people took to the podium to urge the School Board to make modifications to the survey. They spoke against "passive consent", which would involve sending letters to parents informing them of the survey. If parents do not specifically opt out, their child will be given the survey. Parents and concerned citizens called for MCCSC to implement "active consent", which would require prior written permission for each child before the schools can administer the survey. One especially convincing speaker was a mother who had home schooled her children until moving to Monroe County, where she approved of the local government schools.
It would be over an hour and a half before members of the public got to speak, however. Given that the School Board knew there were many people who wanted to address them last night, such an extended delay is irresponsible and disrespectful of the public's right to speak. I suspect the School Board was trying to "wait out" members of the public by dragging out the beginning of the meeting as long as possible.
The Herald-Times, of course, completely missed the real story in their article today, mentioning the sex survey controversy only in passing. The fact that the H-T did not bother to mention the large number of people there to oppose the sex survey is shameful and a disservice to their readership. Fortunately, www.ConservaTibbs.com was on the scene to make sure to get the real story out.
But that wasn't the only journalistic lapse by the local newspaper. If you read yesterday's Herald-Times, you would think that MCCSC has decided against "passive permission". That is simply not true, and is the result of lazy reporting at 1900 South Walnut. MCCSC School Board member Beritt Brewer and School Board president Sue Wanzer criticized "active permission" at the School Board's April 20 work session, and Wanzer told me via electronic mail that she opposes "active consent". Once again, you have to read www.ConservaTibbs.com to get the real story!
I decided that there would be enough people who would speak eloquently in opposition to the survey, so I addressed MCCSC's decision to censor the message of two girls at Bloomington High School North. MCCSC ordered the girls to cover up a message on their t-shirts that was critical of homosexuality. I told the School Board that the First Amendment prohibits content-based censorship, and that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits treating people differently under the law. MCCSC's desire to silence these girls' message proves that Jesus Christ was right when he said that "everyone that doeth evil hateth the light."