Planned Parenthood not popular with Tempe schools’ sex-ed meeting audience

planned-parwnthood-tempe-unionPublic comment at a February 4 meeting showed strong opposition to any involvement by Planned Parenthood in whatever sex-education program might be chosen by the Tempe Union High School District.

More than 70 people were in the audience for the 4:30 p.m. meeting at Desert Vista High School of the sex-education curriculum committee tasked to advise the TUHSD governing board on adopting a program. Seventeen members of the public had time to speak before the committee.

A recurring point among audience speakers was opposition to sex education being taught at school. This should be the role of parents, they said. Planned Parenthood itself frequently was criticized.

When one speaker asked audience members to stand, who opposed any Planned Parenthood involvement whatsoever, almost everyone stood.

Before the meeting, the director of a pro-life pregnancy center e-mailed that she knew Planned Parenthood was encouraging its supporters to attend this meeting, too. If that was so, Planned Parenthood failed to produce a crew of defenders.

One member of the public who spoke, Robert Moriarty, identified himself as a licensed therapist, who has three daughters. He said women pay the greatest price for misinformation concerning sexual matters.

Moriarty said women have told him that Planned Parenthood gives them misinformation “and out-and-out lies,” some of which ruined their lives.

Another speaker from the audience, Ryan Hanning, identified himself as a college professor. “Shame on Planned Parenthood for attempting to deceive us” into thinking it’s an unbiased source, Hanning said.

This apparently referred to an appearance by a Planned Parenthood Arizona representative at a January meeting of the sex-education committee to give her analysis of three sex-education programs being considered.

A Feb. 3 news release from the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a national organization that defends traditional values, objected to the Planned Parenthood official’s role as inappropriate.

The TUHSD committee “invited a Planned Parenthood employee to review, assess, and present an overview of three different sex-education programs, thereby serving as a filter and advisor to the committee,” which was improper, given her organization’s activities, the news release said.

The news release added, “An Alliance Defending Freedom letter issued to all Arizona school districts … explains that giving Planned Parenthood access to students very likely violates a state law that requires preference to be given to childbirth and adoption, not abortion.”

Different speakers from the audience referred to Planned Parenthood’s reputation as a foe of morality and the largest abortion provider in the United States.

Audience member Carl Perera said that abortion provides 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s revenue, and only one child is adopted for every 149 abortions that Planned Parenthood provides. “Inviting them to public schools would be detrimental to our society,” he said.

Kelly Sarotte, director of Tempe’s Aid to Women Center, cited the words of Dorothy Day, a leading 20th century advocate of serving the poor and homeless, that human failings are no excuse to bring down our standards. “In the words of Dorothy Day, we cannot lower the bar because we fail living up to it,” Sarotte said.

She said Planned Parenthood is “the largest abortion provider in the country.”

Raise the bar “for sexual integrity, not sexual exploitation,” Sarotte said.

Audience member Patricia Palmer said, “I just do not agree with the sexual education plans” of Planned Parenthood. Palmer said that abortion has had a negative effect on many women including her.

She said she has learned from conversations that birth control fails, and added: “If contraception and condoms are working,” why is there so much sexual disease and 1.2 million abortions annually?

Bob LaCroix said that half of all pregnancies are considered unintended, and nearly half of births are outside marriage. Given these facts, “Whatever Planned Parenthood’s stated mission is, it is not working,” LaCroix said.

Natalie Decker asked her fellow audience members to indicate if they object to Planned Parenthood having “any role or involvement” in the process, including training teachers or “serving as a filter.” Almost everyone stood.

Decker said Planned Parenthood “clearly has an abortion-driven agenda.”

Jenelle van Brunt said she served eight years as a counselor at a pregnancy center, where she learned that teenagers are concerned about having freedom – which they attain by avoiding sexual involvement.

She said they need to know that “there are plenty of adults who love you and believe in you.”

Ed Douglas, a retiree who said he’s a former TUHSD employee, said that “if you forget the moral side [of sex education] … you’re dumbing down our country.” Illustrating a decline in morality, Douglas recalled a time when people didn’t even have to lock the doors to their homes.

Laura Bell told fellow audience members, “I believe that a strong emphasis on abstinence is the best outcome… I’m not asking that we don’t have sex education… Please don’t lower the standards… Do not adopt the Planned Parenthood curriculum.”

Don Hawker said the sex-education committee “should be aware that the history of Planned Parenthood is steeped in racist eugenics,” including a goal of reducing the African-American population.

Two audience members, Pat Hatton and Linda Spears, said they favored a “comprehensive program,” but did not discuss Planned Parenthood.

People involved with two different sex-education programs under consideration presented information to the committee and audience members.

Cristy Leonard, head health-education supervisor of Maricopa County for the North Star Youth Partnership, said its curriculum is called, “Choosing the Best Journey.”

“We are more than ‘Just say no’,” she said, adding that students “love what we’re teaching them.”

Teens with clear goals are better at avoiding risky behavior, Leonard said.

She said that even if young people have had sexual relations, that doesn’t mean they must continue that kind of life. “All virgins are abstinent but not all abstinent people are virgins… Never too late. You can always start over,” she said.

Another presenter, Jenny Diaz, described another sex-education curriculum through Maricopa County, the Teen Outreach Program (TOP). “We don’t judge. We help them work through,” she said. “We don’t teach or preach, we explore… We’re trying to reduce the risk of poor choices.”

Christine Accurso, director of the First Way Pregnancy Center, said the TOP program often is associated with Planned Parenthood.

After the meeting, ADI spoke with Michael Norton, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, who was present. Norton said it was “very interesting to see the number of people who turned out” who oppose any involvement whatsoever by Planned Parenthood.

Parents are very concerned about having “a program that does not focus on abortion and sexual promiscuity, which is what Planned Parenthood is all about,” Norton said.

“Sometimes, these kind of issues just slide through, without anybody paying any attention to them” at meetings, but that’s not the case here, he said.

As the meeting drew to a close at 6:49 p.m., some of the committee members discussed whether they could have a recommendation for the TUHSD governing board by May, or carry their work over into the next year.

They set their next meeting for Monday, March 3, at the Tempe History Museum, Southern Avenue and Rural Road in Tempe.

Planned Parenthood is one of Barack Obama’s favorite organizations, including its permissive abortions. He gives as much taxpayer money to it as he can. If the audience tonight would have been voting on tax funding, Planned Parenthood would receive no tax dollars.

Some of the meeting’s speakers referred to pervasive sexual messages in society. A poster in the Desert Vista High School nurse’s office addressed this issue. It was headlined, “Pressures to have sex can be strong. But I want to wait. What can I do?”

The poster provided five answers, with points listed beneath each of them. The five answers: “Be clear about why you want to wait. Have a plan. Notice the pressures. Be impressed with yourself. Get support.”

About Dexter Duggan Religion & Politics 12 Articles
Dexter Duggan has been a weekly writer for The Wanderer, a Catholic newspaper, since 1997.