The Dispatch: More from CWR...

“Sex Ed Sit Out”: Parents to protest sex and gender ideology in schools

Activists are encouraging parents to keep their kids home from public schools on Monday, April 23 to protest objectionable sex ed and “diversity” curricula.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Next Monday, April 23, parents of students in public schools are being asked to join a “Sex Ed Sit Out” by keeping their elementary and middle-school students out of school for one day. Organizers in the United States and Canada, as well as some Australian cities, are participating in reaction to what they consider the sexualization of children under the guise of education, through the use of sexually explicit materials in classrooms.

Writer and vlogger Elizabeth Johnston, known as “The Activist Mommy,” has created viral videos detailing explicit programs and curricula being used in public schools; she originated the idea of a national protest. Johnston and friends used social media to jump-start their project, and have since been joined by conservative organizations such as American Life League, Family Research Council, and the Liberty Council.

“Why are our tax dollars going to pay for resources that teach dangerous and promiscuous behaviors which most parents find morally abhorrent and the CDC has stated are a health risk?” asks Johnston. “We are fed up. Enough is enough.”

Caryl Ayala is spearheading the Austin, Texas protest. A former teacher, Ayala explained, “We are uniting with parents across the globe to demand that our rights as parents be respected regarding the teaching of sexuality and sexual orientation. Hands off our kids!”

New attention was directed at public school sex-ed programs last year, when The Red Crayon, a story about a child’s gender “transition,” was read to a kindergarten class at a public charter school in California. The kindergarten teacher then re-introduced a boy classmate to the children as a “girl,” which reportedly traumatized several children in the class. Because the instruction isn’t classified as “sex education,” parents were not advised in advance about the material and had no opportunity to opt-out.

Tami Fitzgerald is the executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, which is a sponsor for the Sex Ed Sit Out. Last year she was asked by parents in the Charlotte, North Carolina area to help them fight the Welcoming Schools curriculum, which was tested for adoption in their county. When parents were told they could not photograph pages of the program material, they began to suspect that a stealth campaign to forestall parental objection was in place.

Fitzgerald described Welcoming Schools as a program created for elementary schools to teach “family diversity” and build “gender-inclusive, non-binary schools” free from bullying. “What about the bullying of parents and children who object to this perverse ideology?” asked Fitzgerald. The program, developed by the LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, subjects students to opposite-gender role-play, and encourages them to cross-dress and to view traditional attitudes of family structure as harmful, Fitzgerald said; students with questions are referred to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is also behind another curriculum causing concern for parents—Get Real is a sex-education program for sixth and seventh graders. Parents in Cumberland County, North Carolina began to voice complaints about Get Real when it was introduced in their schools, pointing to graphic descriptions of sexual acts and advice for children such as using plastic wrap as a form of protection during oral sex.

According to a Family Research Council account, the Get Real program alarmed parents who objected to its promotion of homosexuality, its encouraging gender confusion among students, and its “jaw-dropping descriptions of various acts.” Interim superintendent Tim Kinlaw agreed, “It just simply was not appropriate for our sixth-grade students.” Parents prevailed, and the program was pulled from Cumberland County schools.

The implementation of these programs and others like them are the motivation behind the April 23 Sex Ed Sit Out. Organizers are providing parents with a letter that may be sent to school principals explaining their protest. “We send our children to school and pay for your services through our taxes so that our children can learn reading, writing, science and history, not how to question their gender or how to have anal and oral sex,” the letter reads. The letter makes note of several programs other than Welcoming Schools and Get Real, including Making Proud Choices and Safe Schools. The letter also takes aim at the lack of transparency about the adoption of these programs in some schools and districts, saying that this makes it difficult for parents to opt out of programs they deem harmful for their children.

Another factor working against parents who do not want their children exposed to this material is the fact that these comprehensive programs push gender ideology and sexual behavior across the curriculum—in science, English, and history classes, for example, as well as health and life-skills classes. Because the objectionable content is woven throughout the entire curriculum, parents often cannot remove their student from a single offensive class.

This same methodology is being implemented in Britain via a compulsory “Relationships Education” in primary schools, as was reported in Catholic World Report last month. One program for preschool children, titled Getting Started: Celebrating Difference and Challenging Gender Stereotypes in the Early Years Foundation Stage, seeks to “explain why thinking about lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) inclusion is important in the early years” and “is designed to be used by any practitioner working with children aged 0-5.” In Canada, parents object to Sexual Orientation Gender Identity programs in various guises.

The fact that objectionable content is often packaged as “anti-bullying” or “relationships” education, rather than sex education, can also make it difficult for parents looking to opt out. A memo to the Orange County Board of Education was recently circulated online, in which the Board’s legal counsel advises that the California Healthy Youth Act allows parents to remove their children from sex and HIV education, but that this does not apply to programs covering “gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation, relationships, or family.”

An essential trust between schools and families has been stretched too far, parent activists behind the Sex Ed Sit Out say.

“Why aren’t administrators being transparent with parents about the content of sexuality resources?” asks Elizabeth Johnston. “It’s as if they have something to hide. That should frighten parents everywhere.”

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Mary Jo Anderson 32 Articles
Mary Jo Anderson is a Catholic journalist and speaker whose articles and commentaries on politics, religion, and culture appear in a variety of publications. She was appointed to the USCCB's National Advisory Council (NAC) from 2010 to 2014 and served as member of the NAC Executive Committee in 2011. She covered the Synods from Rome in 2014, 2015, and 2019. She is the co-author of Male and Female He Made Them: Questions and Answers about Marriage and Same-Sex Unions (Catholic Answers). Follow her on Twitter @maryjoanderson3.


  1. I’m glad I grew up when I did. Life was so simple… not all this confusion about sex in a school class. Sex was really taboo. The message from the pulpit was strong and authoritative. This article has an interesting conflict. “Promoting homosexuality”. I am not sure that one can convert a heterosexual person to homosexuality. I also question the class curriculum containing pornographic displays. Gays are being barraged by folks trying to convert them. Where will it all stop?

  2. Transparency is essential for parents and curriculum. The stealth sexualization in all curriculum and the lack of academics and professionalism in schools needs to reflect this. Parents need to wake up and stop blindly trusting these people any more! Informed consent from parents needs to happen.and the fact that they hide perverted sexual grooming materials is a big red flag. Its about time this is happening. Thanks for the article i hope it wakes up some Catholics to see the truth here.

  3. Children are extremely impressionable. As they develop toward normal sexual orientation encouragement by adults that deviation from that is normal and good is in effect teaching them the practice of deviate behavior. Schools are for teaching and what is being taught is deviate sexual behavior. As Mary Jo Anderson implies it’s essentially a far cry from teaching “anti bullying’ and mutual tolerance. The Vatican endorsed Meeting Point which contained erotic displays and same sex material set the tone for this in Catholic schools. Local Ordinaries must get involved and remove these programs. But then we also have the Pope appointing Fr James Martin SJ an advocate for deviate behavior a consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications. Those of us true to the Apostolic Tradition must be more vocal. Even stridently opposed.

  4. So I looked up “Get Real” sex education. Part of the program description “for grades 6, 7 and 8” states:
    Get Real:
    Emphasizes social and emotional skills as key components of healthy relationships and responsible decision making.
    Promotes abstinence from sex as the healthiest choice for middle school students and provides a comprehensive understanding of sexual health, sexuality and protection methods.
    Supports parents and other caring adults as the primary sexuality educators of their children and includes take-home family activities that encourage dialogue between students and the caring adults in their lives.
    … I’m assuming this is a loss leader of a sort?

  5. Unfortunately, this is happening in most public school districts across the US. As it does, we must know that there are more children from Catholic families in public schools than in Catholic schools. So, I wonder, in what ways Catholic bishops and their staffs have come to the aid of those children and their parents in the face of this danger? My hope is that many have lent quiet support to this “Sex Ed Sit Out,” and will spare no effort going forward to protect children from the onslaught of depraved sex education.

  6. This is a pretty good argument for the re-establishment of the Catholic Parish school, with the mandate of teaching ALL the children in the Parish. Not only would our precious children learn reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, and other essential subjects, the course material would be infused with the Gospel and reinforce the Catechism of the Catholic Church. While there are many “Catholic Schools” at present, most of them have evolved to be elitist academies with oppressive tuition costs which excludes many parish children who don’t “preform” at an academic level consistent with the academies’ corporate ego, and parish families who can’t afford hundreds, or thousands, of dollars in tuition. Lacking either the will, or the ability, to establish a School at every Parish, Catholics should be encouraged to Home School their children and the local parish should provide assistance in determining which of the many Catholic Home School curricula would be best suited to the family’s individual students.

  7. The culture is hell bent on indoctrinating children into ideas that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ and His Church. Where are the voices of the leaders of the Church particularly in places where the state has “mandated” this type of so-called “education” for children? None of these programs reflect the Catholic understanding of the gift and moral dimensions of human sexuality and most certainly do not respect the dignity of each human being.

    • The truth is that most children probably already know all about these things that will be taught. I was “told by classmates” when I was 11 years old … and it was the wrong way to learn. I truly don’t understand the fear. Knowing about sexuality does not make you have more sex or different sex. What it may do is … if you are going to be sexually active anyway … IS prevent a pregnancy or a disease.

      • Bilge.

        Public schools will not and do not teach what the Church teaches about sexuality and marriage. They do not address the morality of it at all, because that would be “imposing your beliefs.” And teaching “if you are going to do something that is wrong anyway, here is how to avoid temporal consequences of it” is a horrible way to teach; for one thing, temporal consequences aren’t the only things about which one should be thinking.

        Even if they were, would you teach students, “Here is how you smoke tobacco, chew it, or sniff it; and if you’re going to do it anyway, here are a few hints that may (or may not) mitigate some of the consequences?” “Here’s what bullying is, and if you’re going to do it anyway, here are some ways to avoid being caught?”

  8. May I observe that homeschooling is the epitome of “sex ed sit out”. I have heard government schools brag how they pretend to heel to parents, but feed the hot stuff behind the scenes. Why trust gov farther than you have to. Those who can, homeschool!

  9. This entire protest is based on misinformation. Everyone needs to look at the curriculum. It is impossible to make someone change their sexual orientation. These programs are to help students understand that there will always be people that are different, and no one should be bullied for being themselves.

    • “It is impossible to make someone change their sexual orientation.”

      “Sexual orientation” is a silly neologism.

      If you mean “It is impossibly to make someone change which sins they are tempted to commit,” even if that were true, so what? You can still teach them ways to fight temptation.

  10. Thank you so much for addressing this critical issue. “Get Real”, which is affiliated with Planned Parenthood, is an ironic name for the sex ed program as it is promulgating ideas that are lacking truth of who we really are as male and female. Adolescents are confused enough during this turbulent period of hormones – but then confusing them further by asking where they think they fit on the gender spectrum is an example of child abuse to me. I remember seeing a Planned Parenthood booklet called something like “Happy, Healthy and Hot” which was about young people with AIDS. It basically said that there was no reason they couldn’t continue to have happy sexual relationships – and, that they did not even have to tell their active sexual partner they had the disease until they felt comfortable doing so. I had thought it was against both civil and moral law not to let someone know they, too, might be vulnerable to a life-threatening disease. Parents need to take back their right to help determine what their children are taught in this area – and not leave it up to “professionals”.

  11. As someone who is not religious I too am appalled at what is being pushed onto children by the LGBTetc crowd.

    I went to an open public meeting on LGBT issues, and about fell out of my chair. The lack of any concern on their part about pushing their K-12 ‘agenda’ was horrific to me. The worst part is how many adults just go along with all this garbage.

    I always had gay friends and supported their right to co-exist and be treated decently. But now the gay ‘agenda’ is going way too far. I think many people feel this way and adults should push back against this.

    Unfortunately, many people do not have the guts to speak out.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. “Sex Ed Sit Out”: Parents to protest sex and gender ideology in schools -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.