Family Life Education

Do You Know What Your Child Is Reading In School?

In one Fairfax County public high school, reading books with graphic depictions of gang rape, molestation, bestiality and violence toward children without notifying parents is normal operating procedure. Laura Murphy, a parent of students at Lake Braddock Secondary School, was outraged when she found out what her son was required to read for his AP English class. Toni Morrison's book Beloved contains many scenes and references that most would consider inappropriate for a high school class. Ironically, when Murphy attempted to e-mail direct quotes from the book to the Virginia Board of Education, the firewall blocked the e-mail due to its graphic content. Nevertheless, high school students are required to read it. But Lake Braddock Secondary School is not the only school with inappropriate required reading. A New Jersey school district required, until outraged parents recently demanded otherwise, that high school sophomores read a book that contained graphic lesbian sex scenes. In Knoxville, Tenn., high school freshmen are expected to read a book that encourages risqué sexual behavior. And in Fayetteville, Ark., third graders are required to read the book It’s Perfectly Normal, which contains explicit sexual images. Clearly, this is not an isolated problem. But whenever books such as these are challenged by parents, the American Library Association cries that removing these books from required reading lists is equal to censorship.

However, Murphy and other parents are not seeking to have these books banned, although that is often how the media reports it; they merely would like students to be given an opt-out to such books and for parents to be given advanced notification if books with mature content are to be read in the class. Opt-outs are offered for Family Life Education and teachers must send home permission slips if an R-rated movie is to be shown in a class. Books should not be treated differently.

Although her attempts over the past year to make the curriculum more family-friendly have so far been denied, Murphy has pointed out that SB 908/HB 1642 (recently passed bills, which The Family Foundation lobbied for intently last legislative session, becomes law on July 1) gives parents the fundamental right to direct their child's education. After her case was rejected by the school, local school board, and the superintendent, eight members of the Fairfax County Board of Education read the book and chose to let it remain a part of the curriculum, according to The Washington Examiner.

Murphy's next step is to take her case to the State Board of Education. Right now, the Board is gathering other opinions on the issue and will discuss it at its next meeting on June 27. E-mail the Board of Education today and ask it to provide transparency, consistency and choice through their policy decisions. Ask the members, similar to how they handle Family Life Education, to allow alternatives for students so that they are not forced to violate their conscience. You can e-mail the Board at

Admin’s note: This blog post was written by Maggie McKneely, one of our 2013 summer college interns.  

Anti-Abstinence Education Bill Reported To Full Senate

The Senate Education and Health Committee yesterday reported to the floor SB 967, legislation cleverly designed by Planned Parenthood that attacks abstinence centered education programs. The vote was 11-4 with Republican Senator Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk) voting with the committee's 10 Democrats. It will be voted on by the full Senate early next week. The bill's patron is

Please contact your Senator and urge him or her to vote NO on SB 967.

The patron of this annual assault by the abortion industry on abstinence education is Senator Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk). For years Planned Parenthood has sought to advance legislation that would require sex education curriculum to be, in their words, "medically accurate."  Of course, it's difficult to argue against such a concept because all of us want our children to be given accurate information in school (if we allow the state to educate them about sex). Legislators that vote against the bill could be criticized by abortion advocates as being against "medically accurate" information, when nothing could be further from the truth.   Planned Parenthood and its ally, the National Abortion Rights Action League, (see Liveaction Blog) have made it their national agenda to stop abstinence education and they consistently assail abstinence programs as being medically inaccurate. Unfortunately, even the medical community differs on what is accurate and Senator Northam's bill would force the Department of Education and local schools to make the decision about what is correct. (Of course, we're sure Planned Parenthood and NARAL will joyfully help them make these decisions).   Senator Northam's bill would also change the long standing policy that allows Virginia localities to make their own decisions on whether or not to offer Family Life Education, effectively eliminating parental involvement in the decision making on whether a school district offers FLE.      According to polls, the vast majority of parents want their children to be taught abstinence. In addition, recent studies (published in peer reviewed medical journals) indicate that abstinence centered programs are effective. All the more reason to contact your senator.

Talk About Timing

Yesterday we commented on the Family Life Education reforms passed by the General Assembly last winter and signed into law by Governor Tim Kaine. Of course, there are some out there who, undoubtedly, don't think these new laws are necessary. To those, I provide this: The National Education Association, at its national convention in San Diego this week, is considering a resolution offering its full support of homosexual "marriage."

Educator and conservative activist Jeralee Smith, co-founder of the National Education Association Conservative Educators Caucus,  told today:

. . . that the executive council has approved language that will throw the full support of the NEA behind same-gender marriage, homosexual adoption, and other issues surrounding the homosexual agenda.

Not exactly what most parents expect from teachers. Most expect them to educate their children. Not indoctrinate them. If, in fact, the NEA goes on record supporting this nonsense, we will watch with a very interested eye as to how its Virginia members treat the new FLE marriage curriculum and whether the  administration enforces its implementation as the law now says.

The NEA and its Virginia affiliate, the VEA, are among the biggest roadblocks to public education reform. They and their educrat allies would rather public education completely fail than change; indoctrinate rather than teach. Remember what we wrote yesterday — these FLE improvements are more reforms than laws. Now you know why they were needed.

Another Planned Parenthood Ruse?

Last week the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that a group of school childrenhad addressed the Henrico County School Board, saying that the state needs to change the guidelines for its sex education curriculum from abstinence-based to the model promoted by Planned Parenthood, so-called "comprehensive sex ed." Planned Parenthood Federation of America has as one of its top legislative priorities ending abstinence education in the United States. Late in 2007, it successfully convinced Governor Tim Kaine to stop accepting federal money for abstinence education, effectively ending many abstinence-centered programs in the Commonwealth

While we would hope the idea that we should base our public policy and what is taught in sex education classes on what school age children think would be immediately dismissed by any reasonable adult, several of the Henrico school board members seemed to agree with the children — teach more sex to decrease the number of kids having sex.

The issue of what our children are taught in sex education classes ("Family Life Education"), has been controversial since the concept was introduced to public education decades ago. Adding to the controversy is the misinformation about the effectiveness of abstinence education as well as the propaganda about the ineffectiveness of "comprehensive sex ed."

Don't be fooled by what you read in the article. Where one student is quoted as saying 5 percent of parents want abstinence-based curriculum, the actual number is closer to 80 percent.

The fact is, abstinence education works. A recent study in Virginia showed that children who were taught abstinence were far more likely to postpone sexual activity than those who were not. Several national studies agree (see, here).

It would be interesting to find out exactly what motivated students to begin carrying the sex ed banner of Planned Parenthood. While the organization is not mentioned in the article, one has to wonder if this isn't Planned Parenthood once again using our children to accomplish its agenda. After all, every time a teenage girl listens to the "safe sex" message of comprehensive sex ed and ends up pregnant, Planned Parenthood has another potential "client" knocking on its door asking about an abortion.  Coincidentally, May just happens to be "Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Month" as advocated by — guess who — Planned Parenthood.

We doubt that Henrico County is the only place in Virginia where this is happening. Planned Parenthood is a well-organized, $1 billion political behemoth. Its entire purpose is more abortion more of the time and, we guess, this is a very planned, very coordinated effort. If you are the parent of a public school child, we urge you to contact your local school board representative and make sure he or she knows that you support the Commonwealth's emphasis on abstinence education.

Planned Parenthood always looks for business: "We don't need to see an ID."

Virginia News Stand: March 18, 2009

The News Stand is back after a St. Patrick's Day absence. We hope the all Irish, and Irish-philes for that matter, had a wonderful day. Today's News Stand is, in part, dominated by the RPV chairman fight. This will likely dominate the political headlines until it's resolved, but there's no guarantee as to when that will be. But there is more, a lot more. In particular, I highly suggest reading the opinion piece culled from the Wall Street Journal, by Dr. Brad Wilcox. Dr. Wilcox is a professor at U.Va. and a member of The Family Foundation's marriage commission. This past General Assembly session, he testified on behalf of our Family Life Education bill. Monday, our president, Victoria Cobb, offered a review of the article (here).

Also of note is the national news article, from the Kansas City Star, about the trial of the abortionist George Tiller, whose prosecution was begun by our Annual Gala speaker this year, Phill Kline. For background on the case, see and hear Mr. Kline, now a law professor at Liberty University, yourself, here and here.


Republican Party chairman fights back against those seeking his ouster (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Embattled party chief assails GOP 'insiders' (Washington Times)

GOP Chairman Fires Back as Party Leaders Seek His Ouster (Washington Post)

Making a Living in Governor's Race (Washington Post

Cantor endorses Cox in race for 55th seat (Richmond Times-Dispatch

O'Bannon seeks another term; Democrat begins challenge (Richmond Times-Dispatch

Obenshain: Some VDOT Videos A Waste Of Money (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Justice Thomas says youth self-indulgent (Washington Times)

National News:

Jury selection for Tiller trial starts today (Kansas City Star)


God Will Provide -- Unless the Government Gets There First (Wall Street Journal

The Culture Warriors Get Laid Off (New York Times)

General Assembly Recap: Success On The Fly And In The Plan

It's hard to believe the 2009 General Assembly is over. It seems like it was just yesterday that we red flagged HB 1671 and SB 1094 (the "blight bills") and "created controversy," (according to the big-government types who said we shouldn't be involved). But we got the two bills amended to where they won't affect property rights. It was an improv act, to be sure, but that type of nimbleness is needed during session because rarely does anything go to plan.  We had many other important victories in both chambers and some good  legislation is on its way to the governor's desk — unlike the above, legislation we either initiated or supported from before session. Only 46 days ago these victories were mere drafts of bills on the desks of lawmakers. Through the Family Foundation's advocacy, and legislator contact from concerned citizens, many pro-family bills passed both chambers — some even with unanimous or nearly unanimous votes. But even that doesn't make it easy (see why here).

We have five core principles upon which we advocate in the legislature: Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty, Constitutional Government and Parental Authority. To put our 2009 victories in perspective, we received major victories on four priority bills reflective in five of those principles:

While we are pleased with the successes we had this year we understand that there are still many obstacles to make Virginia more family friendly, including an upcoming veto session in which we may see a veto threat against the Choose Life license plates. So, while the 2009 General Assembly is for the most part over, and we prepare for veto session, we are already working on our plans for 2010.

We thank each of you who took the time to contact your legislators during this past session. Our e-mail alert system generated nearly 25,000 e-mails to legislators this year! Your action does make a difference and, we at The Family Foundation, always are encouraged by your response. Additionally, we enjoyed bringing the General Assembly to you via video on this blog and our YouTube page. We had more unique visitors in the 28 days of February than in the 31 of January!

We also offer our humblest thanks for allowing us to represent you in the General Assembly. We take the responsibility very seriously and look forward, with your help, to continued success.

BREAKING: Senate Finance Approves Spending Transparency Bill!

It's been one heck of a day at The Family Foundation: Pastors Lobby Day, Virtual Lobby Day, a live blog interview with Attorney General Bob McDonnell, losing as expected on pro-life measures in Senate Ed & Health (as expected, and video to come on the incomprehensible arguments), but also a big win there, on Family Life Education. But a loooooooooooooooong day and week was capped off by a big win in Senate Finance usually a grave yard of bills. On a unanimous voice vote, the committee approved Senator Ken Cuccinelli's SB 936. Admittedly not the ideal language as first drafted, the bill will make improvements to the current system.

Think of it this way: If proponents stuck the original and lost just to have an issue, the issue risked becoming a GA perennial that gets tuned out every year, as so many repeat bills are. Getting it passed and getting a start on complete and easy access to spending information means we can continually improve it over time. While the cynic might reply, "Like other other government agencies?" an examination of the substitute shows real progress.

On to House Appropriatons sub-committee tomorrow afternoon and HB 2285! It's not too late to contact those sub-committee members. Click here to do so.

Marriage Threatens Self Esteem: VEA

No surprise the Virginia Education Association spoke against teaching the positive benefits in marriage:

  The surprise came when one of the teachers here for VEA Lobby Day approached the lobbyist for the Catholic Conference who had supported the bill and said, "I'm a teacher and I don't agree with anything my VEA representative just said.  She's an idiot!"

Dangers Of Marriage

Throughout the entire campaign season of the 2006 Marriage Amendment, I would debate representatives of Equality Virginia, other homosexual rights groups and legislators.  Inevitably, they would argue something to the effect that we should stop picking on gay marriage and go work on reducing the terrible heterosexual divorce rate. I would agree and tell them that as soon as we lock up the definition in our constitution, I could put a lot more time into reducing divorce.  So, when we got the amendment, we set to work on the divorce rate and created the  Marriage Commission.  One of their recommendations is simple: starting teaching children the benfits of marriage in Family Life Education.  Today, that bill was presented by Del. Pogge (R-96, Yorktown) to the House Education Committee.  Apparently, Del. Morrisey (D-74, Highland Springs) didn't get the word that we were doing exactly what his allies in the homosexual rights community wanted, working on reducing the heterosexual divorce rate:

 Interestingly, after debate, Del. Morrisey voted in favor of the bill!

Family Foundation's 2009 Legislative Agenda: Teaching Benefits Of Marriage

One would assume that “Family Life Education” would include instruction about the basic make up of the “family.” Guess again.


After researching the commonwealth’s Standards of Learning requirements for family life education, the only reference to marriage found is not very encouraging at all:


"The student will provide examples of difficult family situations: abusive behavior, financial problems, separation or divorce, illness, injury or death, loss of job, family has to move, birth of a baby, remarriage, etc."


Gee, that’ll make kids want to grow up and get married, won’t it?


Earlier this year, The Family Foundation’s marriage commission met to discuss legislative proposals that will encourage and strengthen traditional marriage in Virginia. One idea was to make sure that the benefits of marriage are being taught to the next generation in Family Life Education. Most people are simply not aware that marriage is beneficial to everyone involved, as well as the community. But the science doesn't lie.


According to Brad Wilcox, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and a member of The Family Foundation's marriage commission, "In general, the research shows that children who grow up in an intact, married family, are about 50 percent less likely to experience serious psychological, academic, or social problems as children or young adults, compared to children who grow up in single or step-families." Social science also shows that both men and women benefit from marriage as well.


Unfortunately, our culture and media portray marriage as archaic and even dangerous. Virginia is one of a growing number of states where the marriage rate, the number of people choosing to get married, is declining. It also is one of the few states where the divorce rate continues to climb.  


One way to reverse these trends is to begin showing our kids the positive benefits of marriage. Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown), who, along with her husband Roger, ran our marriage amendment campaign in 2006, and state Senator Ralph Smith (R-22, Roanoke) have agreed to carry this priority legislation on behalf of The Family Foundation. The bill simply adds a line to the commonwealth’s Family Life Education requiring that the benefits of marriage be taught to our kids.


Teaching the next generation that marriage is a positive instead of something to be dreaded is just one step toward restoring marriage in general. Of course, the General Assembly should pass this bill without any decent because it is based on science, something that many members are always advocating.