Open Letter to Liverpool

Gina Tonello
Stop the Shaming

Liverpool School District
195 Blackberry Rd.
Liverpool, NY 13090

January 25, 2018

To Liverpool Superintendent Dr. Mark Potter and Board of Education Members:

I’m shocked and disappointed that you failed to ask some very basic and important questions of New Hope at the Jan. 22 Liverpool Board of Education meeting regarding New Hope Family Services’ continued relationship:

  1. New Hope’s Abstinence Education program, “Real Love Respects” is taught mostly by volunteers. What are their qualifications? Do they have degrees in public health? Is an advanced degree required? Were they trained? Where? Who trained them? How long is the training period?
  2. Since you base your success on the feedback received on evaluation forms, who wrote New Hope’s evaluation forms? Are they unbiased? Are they written in a way that there is no “bad” answer? Can the board see the copies? Who compiles these forms? When are they given to the students? On their way out the door? How do the students know they are truly anonymous? How serious are students when filling these out? What do studies show about how often kids in a classroom give critical feedback to teachers they blindly trust? Is there pressure to fill out a survey positively when a grade is associated with the program?
  3. The idea of agreeing to not have pre-marital sex is a religious-based concept, not one that merely “sets the bar high.” Statistics show that it is an impossible standard since 97% of people in the United States have premarital sex. How is the idea of waiting until marriage to have sex not a religious concept? How can a child who has had sex and hears this message, not feel ashamed and offended? If you tell a child that being a virgin until they’re married is what we want and expect of them and then say, “Except you. If you’ve already done it, we still value you. Don’t worry, you can reclaim your virginity.” How does a child make that right in their mind?
  4. Why should we bring in a controversial outside, religious-affiliated group like yours when our taxpayers already pay on-staff, certified, accredited and vetted health teachers to teach this lesson? Is your lesson so valuable that the school district should tolerate ongoing complaints from parents?
  5. Do you encourage students to sign a purity agreement and give them rings? Isn’t this an idea based in religion and a ceremony often performed in conservative churches?
  6. Although a Baldwinsville parent complained about your chewed gum skit, your website simply says you “are reviewing and making adjustments” to that skit. Is it still being done?

Also, there were inaccuracies reported consistently throughout the meeting by uninformed board members about opting out. Parents do not recall that there has ever been an option to opt out of this class offered. We invite the board to produce copies of the dated and clearly worded opt-out forms they claim they have sent home to parents.


Gina Tonello
Stop the Shaming