Jesus recommended the reverse, of course--being wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:6). But the Family Action Council of Tennessee's continued screeching about a service learning project offered by Nashville CARES will leave students neither wise nor innocent. And even though the Tennessean says that Metro Schools and Nashville CARES are working together to determine how or whether to go forward with the project, Family Action isn't giving up.
In a message to members this week, Family Action president David Fowler noted, "While AIDS is an awful disease and we would never wish anyone to suffer from it, we also should not want our young people to be exposed to graphic demonstrations of sexual acts for which our bodies were not designed and which are not healthful." Besides that, the class might "make most people blush or cringe."
Where to begin? The basic false assumption is that the service learning class is teaching students TO use their bodies in certain ways that Family Action considers contrary to design. Teens in Tennessee may or may not be having sex more than teens in other states, but the teen birthrate in Tennessee is significantly higher than the U.S. rate as a whole. Teens in Tennessee are certainly getting STDs. So it's pretty clear that projects like the one Nashville CARES is offering are not teaching students TO have sex. Students are "learning" somewhere else.
Instead of acknowledging these facts, Family Action wants to focus on "propriety" and divert everyone's attention by arguing that the Nashville CARES service learning project is designed to "advance a sexual agenda." That would be the sexual agenda that makes people blush. But I would say that blushing and even cringing beat an unwanted pregnancy or an STD any day.
Projects like the one led by Nashville CARES at Hillbsoro High School help give students the information they need to prevent unwanted pregnancy and avoid deadly STDs. But those concerns only get a dependent clause in Family Action's message. In fact, they've moved way beyond the life and death question of health. Their focus is collecting stories in cities across Tennessee so that they can carry on their fight against information. They tell their members to report more of these stories that make people blush. They ask, "...will you let us know?"
So we can expect more attacks on health information around Tennessee in the name of "worldview." But the health of Tennessee teens is what is really at stake, not a worldview.