A school district in Tulsa County, Oklahoma has banned sexual abstinence speaker Shelly Donahue from returning after students complained that her comments during a “sex ed” presentation were demeaning to girls and insulting to children of broken families.
The news of her being banned pertains to Colorado’s western slope because Delta County School District regularly hires Shelly Donahue to give the very same talk to Delta high school seniors.
Donahue gave program to seniors at Jenks High School on March 22. After her talk, senior Brooklyn Wilson took to Facebook to post a detailed complaint about the program:
I am so incredibly disgusted and disappointed by Jenks Public Schools that I need to speak on it. So today our school decided to have a sex ed class, given to the entire senior class. As usual, this sex ed class was based around the idea of abstinence (both a CLEARLY unrealistic and ineffective approach to teaching safe sex). However, on top of the usual disappointed, today a line was crossed. A direct quote from the presentation “Do you know why girls are so desperate and always text guys first? Two words: Daddy. left.” I am DISGUSTED. How dare our school allow a statement so demeaning to girls and so belittling of broken families to be presented to a class of such impressionable and already insecure seniors . “Daddy” leaving is a life changing and heartbreaking situation, but to stereotype and undermine girls by calling them “desperate” for having the confidence to text a guy first is SO OUT OF LINE. Parents, I would be furious if I sent my child to school and this is the way they are treated, with shame, guilt, and embarrassment being used as a way to try and prevent sex. I am genuinely so upset and let down by a school I gave my trust and faith to, since kindergarten until now. I demand an explanation, not just an apology, but a re teaching of a positive, healthy, and secure way of having safe sex, that does not belittle other students family situations, which are already hard enough for them to deal with. It is heartbreaking the hate I was shown today by the adults who are supposed to be our leaders and protectors, and I cannot let it go unnoticed.
Same Talks Regularly Given to Delta County High School Seniors
The Delta County School District has brought in Shelly Donahue to teach “sex ed” to their high school seniors for many years, but in 2015 a separation of church and state watchdog group based in Madison, Wisconsin, warned the district that Donahue’s programs do not comply with state standards, which require public schools that offer sex education to include medically accurate information about contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS and other topics. According to Delta County School District Assistant Superintendent Kurt Clay, their district has brought Shelly Donahue in to speak to high school seniors for at least the last ten years.
Donahue spoke at Delta High School in October, 2015, after which a DHS senior who covered it for the school paper documented the content Donahue’s program with notes and photographs of her slides, all of which contained crucifixes. The student reported that Donahue likened girls to used diapers and used packing tape, told students that premarital sex “puts them further from God,” and that all of her slides contained crucifixes, the religious symbol of Christianity. The student notified her parents, the school district and secular groups about the religious content and demeaning commentary towards girls in Donahue’s talk. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) responded by sending a letter (pdf) to the Delta County School District’s attorney warning that Donahue’s “sex ed” talks violate laws that prohibit religious proselytizing in public schools and require specific information be included in public schools’ comprehensive sex education courses.
Donahue has made a living as a religious sexual abstinence instructor for years, soaking up subsidies given to abstinence programs under the George W. Bush administration. The Obama administration ended the subsidies after concluding that abstinence programs are ineffective. In the Delta County schools, Donahue’s programs have been funded by a Christian missionary organization, the Delta Pregnancy Resource Center.
Donahue was scheduled to speak in a Wyoming school district in April, 2016, but the Teton County School District abruptly canceled her program after receiving similar complaints from the community about the demeaning content of her talk.
News reports in Jenks say Donahue won’t be asked to return to the district after making “shocking comments” during her talk.