Planned Parenthood and Its Allies Still Pushing Graphic Sex Ed Curriculum in Worcester

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Planned Parenthood and their allies are once again pressuring Worcester mayor Joseph Petty and members of the school committee to implement so-called “comprehensive sexuality education” in the city’s public schools. Two years ago, in February 2019, the school committee abandoned the proposal after hearing from parents and faith leaders challenging the curriculum’s graphic and base content as neither appropriate nor healthy for students. Now Planned Parenthood is at it again.

The conflict is not over whether to teach kids about sex. Neither birds nor bees act the way Planned Parenthood wants adolescents to act. Its “comprehensive sexuality education” is a specific form of highly sexualized how-to instruction in the outer stratospheres of human sexual behavior.

Despite claiming to be “medically accurate,” “age appropriate,” and “evidenced based,” comprehensive sexuality education is anything but. When a sex ed program tells children as young as 12 years old “there is no right age to have sex” or instructs them to signify consent by making “sounds of enjoyment like a satisfied hum or moan,” it’s obvious why parents and community leaders object. Planned Parenthood’s approach also promotes unscientific and harmful transgender theory, asserting that biological boys and girls can become the opposite sex. This type of instruction can hardly be described as “medically accurate” or “age appropriate.”

As for “evidence based,” well, we’re often lectured about following science. What does the science say? Findings from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that 80% of students did not achieve better health outcomes after participating in a comprehensive sexuality program. In fact, several programs put teens at more risk for early sexual debut, pregnancy, and other high-risk sexual behavior, such as oral sex.

One of these programs is the Teen Outreach Program – wishfully called “TOP” – which is now under consideration in Worcester. How has it done? A January 2016 study in the Pacific Northwest found that the “pregnancy prevention program” led to teen-age pregnancy rates that were “higher among females receiving TOP than among control females.” In other words:  Girls were better off without it. The study, conducted for The Northwest Coalition for Adolescent Health, called the findings “disappointing.” (Cheer up, though. At $4 million, this federally funded program was a bargain.)

When a curriculum results in higher teen pregnancy rates, that is cause enough to eliminate it from consideration for vulnerable students. But comprehensive sexuality programs also fail to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are 20 million new sexually transmitted infections cases annually, and half of these are occurring among 15-to-24-year-olds. A review by the Institute of Research and Evaluation of 60 rigorous studies performed on 40 school-based comprehensive sexuality programs found that the approach did not result in a reduction of sexually transmitted infections in teens.

Worcester faith leaders recently pointed out the failures of comprehensive sexuality education and their objections to this approach to sex ed in a letter sent to Mayor Petty and members of the school committee. The signers of the letter, which included 20 pastors and priests representing a “vast and diverse faith community,” advised they are educating their congregations about the harms of comprehensive sexuality education and that they would be “watching closely.”

The evidence clearly shows that comprehensive sexuality education is not improving health outcomes for students, so why are Worcester city and school officials still considering implementing a curriculum based on this approach? If it doesn’t work, and if many parents and faith leaders don’t want it, why do it?

Perhaps some public officials are taking their marching orders from special interest groups like Planned Parenthood. Email messages obtained in July 2019 through a public records request by This Week In Worcester revealed that Planned Parenthood officials met with Mayor Petty several weeks before to discuss sex education in Worcester schools. Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, offered to broker a meeting between the mayor and Steve Ridini, a “neutral expert” in community-centered decision making, presumably to aid the mayor in pushing controversial comprehensive sexuality education on the Worcester community.

Ridini is far from neutral, however. He is the president and chief executive officer of Human Resources in Action and author of two books:  Health and Sexuality Education in Schools: The Process of Community Change and Grassroots Social Action: Lessons in People Power Movements. Dr. Childs-Roshak was apparently worried about appearances on behalf of the mayor – according to one email message reported by This Week In Worcester, the Planned Parenthood executive suggested that Mayor Petty meet with Ridini in Boston, so the meeting “might be more under the radar.”

Why go to all this trouble?

Planned Parenthood administrators know that if they sexualize young people, they will create new customers who will seek out their abortion services, sexually transmitted infection treatments, and transgender hormone injections. Monica Cline, a former Planned Parenthood sex educator, describes the organization’s sex ed programs as “the perfect business plan for lifelong customers.”

Worcester students should be given access to programs that have been shown to produce positive behavioral changes and improve teen outcomes. One such program is called Sexual Risk Avoidance. This approach uses a public health model that addresses health risk behaviors, promotes disease prevention, and includes topics like making healthy decisions, avoiding negative peer pressure, developing resistance skills, and self-regulating. It also teaches facts about pregnancy and the risk of sexually transmitted infections. The risk avoidance approach works. Some successful examples of this approach include campaigns to decrease smoking and underage drinking.   

The choice of a sex education curriculum will be on the Worcester school committee agenda soon. Community members should check the school district’s web site for updates regarding meeting dates and agendas and be prepared to speak up and protect Worcester students from the harms of comprehensive sexuality education.

In the meantime, citizens should contact Mayor Joseph Petty and the Worcester School Committee and tell them they want healthy sex education for Worcester students, not a demeaning program that grossly sexualizes children.


Mary Ellen Siegler is a certified Sexual Risk Avoidance specialist and the founder of Massachusetts Informed Parents, a grassroots initiative concerned about the sexualization of children. Parents can learn more about sex education in Massachusetts public schools by joining the Facebook group of Massachusetts Informed Parents.