Baldwinsville

BALDWINSVILLE CENTRAL SCHOOLS

On December 4, 2017, Gina Tonello, Baldwinsville parent, presented this text to the Baldwinsville School District School Board. On December 5, she received a phone call from Joseph Debarbieri, Deputy Superintendent, with an assurance that New Hope will not be invited back and that Bville teachers would teach the curriculum going forward, as outlined in their curriculum.

TEXT FROM BOARD PRESENTATION ON DECEMBER 4, 2017

Two weeks ago, my daughter and her friends were told that if they have premarital sex, afterward, they will have the same appeal as a chewed piece of gum to potential partners. They heard that Christian-biased lesson right here in health class at our public Baker High School.

Baker has been inviting an outside ultra-conservative Christian ministry organization called New Hope Family Services for years to give this humiliation-based sex education lesson in their health classes. Their family-planning lesson focuses on the failures of contraception and goes into little detail. In the past, they’ve also encouraged the teenagers to sign a purity agreement in front of one another and are given gold purity rings.

As a former board member at AIDS Community Resources, now known as ACR Health, I first learned of this lesson several years ago, but refused to believe it. However, when my daughter’s friends started taking the class, I found out the rumors were true.

[In September 2016, I posted on Facebook that I was going to come to a board meeting to address the issue. I did not because Superintendent McDonald heard about my plan and called me personally to reassure me that he would take care of the issue. He urged me to please not address the board. But now, a year and a half later, my daughter just heard the same shocking lesson heard by hundreds before her.]

My fellow parents and I would like to know who vetted New Hope Family Services? Why aren’t we made aware that a religious organization with unknown accreditations is teaching our children a shame-based, sex-ed curriculum? What other outside private organizations are being brought in to teach our children? The lack of transparency is disturbing.

Current events are shedding light on how women have been victims of sexual assault for far too long and do not come forward for fear of retribution and intense feelings of shame and guilt.

Shame-based sex education shuts down discussions of sexual violence, consent, healthy sexuality and safe sex before they can even start, while planting the little seeds that reinforce gender stereotypes about female passivity and male aggressiveness. In other words, teaching that men can treat women without respect — like a chewed piece of gum.

The Baldwinsville Public School System is helping to perpetuate this mindset in 2017 by requiring more than 400 students each year to hear this lesson. As a result, the school is failing its students and not fully preparing them for the realities of life after school.

I ask tonight that the board please fully research this matter and immediately stop Baker health classes from using New Hope Family Services. We need to take a hard look at updating our sexual health curriculum for next year.

If you’d like to hear the actual recording from my daughter’s class of the chewed gum lesson, we have a website set up at stoptheshaming.org with links to other valuable resources.

Thank you.