By John Klar
The COVID pandemic exposed Vermont parents to more than germs. As schoolroom classes were conducted remotely, parents listened in on what their children were being taught, and not all of it is good. As I have related recently, sexual education has been central to the teaching of gender theory, which offers children a kaleidoscope of confusing gender selections, and of sexual values that depart from “traditional” sex ed as well as from what parents may believe or want taught. Vermont sex ed is now also interwoven with novel Critical Race Theory (CRT) ideology.
Vermont’s latest “Education Quality Standards” rightly condemn racism:
“Racism” means any theory in which value judgements are based on racial, ethnic, or cultural differences, or which advances the claim that racial, ethnic, or cultural groups are inherently superior or inferior, thus explicitly arguing or implying that some groups are entitled to dominate, exploit, exclude, or eliminate others presumed to be inferior. Racism is practiced by individuals and groups, and it is expressed systematically through the structures, laws, regulations, practices and policies of public and private institutions, employers, and organizations.
However, existing education materials in Vermont overtly violate this very standard, by applying instruction in our public institutions that systematically express theories in which value judgments are based solely on racial judgments that white people in Vermont inherently occupy positions of superior power or privilege. Vermont’s sex ed guide, Essential Topics in Sexual Health Education, is permeated with applications of this new woke racism. It teaches that sleeping around with many sexual partners doesn’t “reflect on the character of a person” (p.13). Concurrently, it inculcates children with a racist lens about sexual activity, which very much impacts character.
As with CRT, the sex ed materials extrapolate individual examples of extremist institutional racism to characterize the entire society. These are not episodes in history that were widely approved of or even publicly known, but that also were not embraced by Vermont or Vermonters, such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, and Puerto Rican Birth Control Trials. “Essential Topics” claims these faraway exceptions provide a measure of Vermont culture:
Due to this history, communities of color experience generational trauma around their sexual health and behavior that adversely affects the sexual health experiences of their young people. This experience may be even more tenuous for Black and Brown cisgender, heterosexual girls and LGBTQ+ youth. Present day instances of of sexualized racism includes medical providers and institutions targeting, over-incentivizing, and, in some cases, compelling BIPOC girls into “choosing” LARCs (long-acting reversible contraceptives), and the unchecked perpetuation of HIV stigma for Black and Brown gay men and boys. This trauma may become intensified when interacting with both their sex education classroom and sexual healthcare systems. (p. 7).
Why BIPOC children in 2023 Vermont suffer generational trauma from Puerto Rican Birth Control Trials is left unstated, let alone proved. Those trials were 1) successful to develop the modern medical use of the Pill (unlike mRNA vaccines, they actually tested drugs before widely administering them back then); 2) not racially motivated. It is true that the drugs used were stronger dose levels than what is now routinely provided, but there is no evidence that that was done deliberately or for racist motives.
Researchers used Puerto Rican women for sensible scientific reasons:
….without large-scale human trials, the drug would never receive the FDA approval necessary to bring the drug to market. Given the strong legal, cultural and religious opposition to birth control in America in the 1950s, the prospects for this crucial next step appeared dim. ….[Puerto Rico], a U.S. territory, was one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and officials supported birth control as a form of population control in the hopes that it would stem Puerto Rico’s endemic poverty. There were no anti-birth control laws on the books, and [Dr.] Pincus was impressed with the extensive network of birth control clinics already in place on the island.
The Pill was 100% effective in the trials, and no deaths were observed – yet Vermont’s extremist sex ed materials weaponize this drug trial by imputing intergenerational racism that simply was not in any way connected to the trials. The experiences of BIPOC children today are indeed tenuously – as in very weakly – linked to Puerto Rican drug trials. And though the Tuskegee Syphilis study reflected racist callousness toward blacks, it has been widely condemned and was never an accepted basis of scientific or societal conduct. A handful of unethical doctors are nevertheless employed to paint all of Vermont as systemically racist, and all white people as complicit. This is the definition of systemic racism.
Vermont’s sex ed instruction is now racially saturated, in ways that portray all black people today as victims of all whites, for past sins of others. White people are not acknowledged as even potentially being non-racist. Virginity, per the Essentials, has “never been enforced equally”:
It is also important to recognize that there are different racial stereotypes and experiences of virginity: white women’s virginity has been highly valued historically, while that of BIPOC girls is often undervalued or ignored entirely by a cultural and historical narrative that paints them as always sexually willing and available and never sexually innocent. (p. 13).
This is a selected social justice narrative, not a historical factual statement.
The discussion of virginity and abstinence connects with discussions of contraception. It is clear that there are racial distinctions in the views of contraceptive use, with BIPOC women being less likely to use them. This can relate to race-linked poverty, but there is insufficient data to conclude that “contraceptives are racist.” Indeed, many white women also distrust contraceptives for valid reasons – i.e., perceived risks of cancer, adverse health effects, or infertility.
According to one study:
Disparities in unintended pregnancy in the United States are related, in part, to black and Hispanic women being overall less likely to use effective contraceptive methods. However, the fact that these same groups are more likely to use female sterilization, a highly effective method, suggests there may be variability in disparities in contraceptive use across a woman’s life course. ….Compared to whites, blacks were less likely to use any contraceptive method (adjusted odds ratio, 0.65); and blacks and Hispanics were less likely to use a highly or moderately effective method (adjusted odds ratio, 0.49 and 0.57, respectively). Interaction analyses revealed that racial/ethnic disparities in contraceptive use varied by women’s age, with younger women having more prominent disparities.
Conclusion: Interventions designed to address disparities in unintended pregnancy should focus on improving contraceptive use among younger women.
The very liberal Guttmacher Institute states:
Unintended and teenage pregnancy rates have been persistently high for decades in the United States, and subgroups of the population, including black women, Latinas and the socioeconomically disadvantaged, are at greatly elevated risk for these outcomes. ….Multiple studies have found more positive attitudes toward the prospect of pregnancy among young black women and Latinas than among their white counterparts.
These findings are mirrored in qualitative studies in which young women from minority communities report perceiving multiple benefits to childbearing, including providing a purpose in life and someone to love, restoring self-confidence and fostering connection with partners and family.
More positive attitudes toward the prospect of pregnancy have been shown to be associated, at least to some extent, with less effective and consistent contraceptive use and subsequent pregnancy.
Meanwhile, abortion rates diverge at much greater magnitude between races, and rates for black women have increased in recent years. Vermont’s essential sex ed standards do not address these disparities at all, though black women undergo abortions at 3.8 times the rate of white women, and 2.15 times higher than Hispanic women. To allege that this racial disparity is due to systemic white supremacy would be reckless, so it is surprising that Vermont’s reckless ideologically-skewed sex ed materials don’t do so.
Everything else in Vermont’s sex ed is heavily racialized, in a racism that meets the state’s own definition thereof. In “tips on how to start using sex ed to advance racial justice” (p. 7), we read:
– Acknowledge Black and brown communities’ histories of racism and keep that information at the front of our minds as we provide sex ed.
– Actively search for the ways in which racism and white supremacy show up in our day-to-day classroom and community activities and work to identify, uproot, and eliminate those practices.
– Do not place the burden of advancing racial justice solely on folks of color. It is up to the people with the most power and privilege – mostly white people – to do the work.
What exactly is “the work” of “advancing racial justice,” other than ideological indoctrination of children to embrace partisan values and views? It is racist to assert that “mostly white people” should be targeted solely for their skin color – whether for “work,” or to allege privilege. Not all white people are affluent; many BIPOC people are. Further, the Essential Topics guide gives no guidance as to what “practices” are to be identified, or how teachers are to “uproot” them. Yet it blandly offers “Throughout this guide, we have identified specific instances where a racial justice lens should be applied.”
The ideological saturation of this topic area is evident in this guide, and impacts children’s free speech rights. Page 21 cautions “Be cognizant of how power dynamics play into consent…. Are white students eager to touch the hair of a Black student, or to ask intrusive questions of a transgender student?” Is it racist for a curious child to want to touch the hair of a black child, or simply loving curiosity? If consent is first sought, is the request still inappropriate? And what questions are deemed “intrusive” to ask of transgender students? Are children permitted to believe or express their view that there are only two genders, whitch mirror biological sex?
Reference materials reflect this same ideological permeation. One link is to Sister Song, which proclaims “As the progressive faithful, we must make clear that we stand firmly in our faith on the side of a just and equitable world.” Is this an inappropriate comingling of religious views and government? Another link (Just Faith 4 a Just World) sounds much like a religious convocation, and calls for race reparations, claims “in a just world, borders are replaced with gateways,” calls for free education for all people regardless of merit “at the highest levels they wish to obtain,” and free universal healthcare. It does not directly ask for contributions to the Democratic Party, but certainly embraces a far left political ideology as a sex ed teaching resource created by the Vermont government with taxpayer dollars.
This is deliberate ideological indoctrination, packaged as sexual education for children of all ages. It is overtly and definitionally racist and partisan. It is, therefore, completely inappropriate for a public school curriculum.
The author is a Brookfield farmer, lawyer, author, and 2022 candidate for the Vermont Senate.