Justin Thiel, 31, was ready to send his oldest daughter to kindergarten at the public school in his rural Nebraska town. He made a sudden change of plans once he read the new sex education standards adopted by the state.
"I signed her up for a Christian school the day I read the standards," Thiel told the Washington Free Beacon.
The National Sex Education Standards, which provided a roadmap for Nebraska Department of Education, teach kindergartners the names of reproductive body parts and define gender identity and reproduction. Children in Grades 3-5 are taught about masturbation, hormone blockers used to transition pre-pubescent children, STDs, and the differences between cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, and "gender expansive." Grades 6-8 are taught about abortion, contraception, and differences between vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Grades 9-10 must teach "reproductive justice," which entails unlimited abortion access.
Dr. Susan Greenwald, a retired pediatrician in Nebraska who worked with childhood victims of sexual abuse for 35 years, said the standards are closer to "grooming" than age-appropriate education.
"The first thing out of my mouth was, ‘holy s***—what pedophile wrote this?'" Greenwald told the Free Beacon. "This is grooming 101. If you were a pedophile and wanted to teach your kid to be a victim, this would be what you use."
The Nebraska curriculum takes a number of exact phrases and guidelines from the National Sex Education Standards' Second Edition, which was released in 2020 by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), Advocates for Youth, and Answer. The three groups rake in millions of dollars each year from the federal government and abortion-focused charities. State and local education departments from Nebraska to New York have adopted the curriculum, but parents, doctors, and government officials are starting to push back against lesson plans that focus on hormone therapy, abortion, and gender transition.
Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts (R.) is publicly feuding with the state's department of education. The governor calls the curriculum unworkable and is hosting town halls across the state for hundreds of parents to voice their concerns about the sex education standards.
"The people pushing this are not the parents—they're advocates," Ricketts told the Free Beacon. "I tell parents, ‘Don't settle'—there's no fixing these standards. They have to be scrapped."
The Nebraska Department of Education, which consists of elected members separate from the governor, defended the process for drafting the curriculum as "transparent."
"We appreciate feedback from everyone in Nebraska including the Governor and we are in the process of using public comments and concerns as we write a second draft," a spokesman said. "We intend to have a second draft out in the coming weeks."
Dr. Jeanne Stolzer, professor of child development at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, said it is hard to know exactly what impact these standards will have because nothing this radical has ever been taught in schools before.
"It has the potential to really wreak havoc with kids socially, psychologically, emotionally," Stolzer told the Free Beacon. "Why would we want to experiment on our kids like guinea pigs?"
Neither SIECUS, Advocates for Youth, nor Answer returned requests for comment.
SIECUS was founded in 1964 by Mary Calderone—a medical director at Planned Parenthood—with the goal of advocating for more progressive sex education. The CDC has given SIECUS nearly $3 million since 1998, according to the Health and Human Services Department's TAGGS program. Before founding SIECUS, Calderone worked for and grew to admire Dr. Alfred Kinsey, a famed biologist who studied sexuality. To study the sexuality of children, Kinsey measured the number of orgasms in boys as young as two months, a number obtained by a pedophile Kinsey had hired.
A Free Beacon review of 990 forms found that SIECUS receives millions in annual grants from liberal nonprofits. These grants include annual payments ranging anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000 from charities such as the Westwind Foundation, the Grove Foundation, the Huber Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. SIECUS has received more than $7 million in total from similar organizations since 1998.
Advocates for Youth was founded in 1980 and focuses on improving "youth sexual health and rights," according to its website. The CDC has given Advocates for Youth $26 million in grants since 1995, with an additional $3.8 million coming from Health and Human Services, according to TAGGS. The group boasts that it distributes millions of condoms to students every year. Its YouTube show, Kikis with Louie, promotes topics such as transgenderism, gender fluidity, and drag queens to children. One of the groups youth activism programs, titled "Abortion Out Loud," aims to "end abortion stigma and strengthen support for young people's access to abortion."
Advocates for Youth has received more than $20 million from abortion-focused nonprofits. The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and New Morning Foundation alone have given them more than $7 million since 1998.
Other abortion-focused foundations that donated to SIECUS and Advocates for Youth include the Wallace Global Fund, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the Scherman Foundation.
Answer was founded in 1981 to push more progressive sex education in New Jersey and is a part of Rutgers University. The organization certifies teachers on how to teach sex education and publishes a teen-written, sex-focused magazine called Sex, Etc.
Historically, the debate over sex ed has taken place at the most local level, where school boards often use national standards as a guide to adopt their own unique curriculum. Since the National Sex Education Standards were introduced, however, state houses have decided to take action with hopes of establishing a more unified, progressive sex education curriculum.
State legislators in Illinois successfully passed legislation to update the state's sex education curriculum to completely align with the National Sex Education Standards, making Illinois the first state to do so. Governor J.B. Pritzker (D.) did not respond to questions on whether he plans to sign the bill.
Illinois state senator Sue Rezin (R.) told the Free Beacon that Pritzker's radical record leaves her with no doubt that he will sign the bill into law. Rezin, the state senate's deputy minority leader, said she was surprised at how swiftly Democrats were able to pass the bill without guidance from education experts.
"This is the first time I can remember that a major education policy had been proposed and passed that was not given to us by the state department of education," Rezin told the Free Beacon. "Instead it was promoted and passed by these advocacy groups."
A New York legislator has attempted to require these standards too, but the bill has not made it out of committee. Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R.) said the bill takes power away from local education leaders and puts it into the hands of special interest groups.
"We'd be turning over our curriculum to this private organization," Reilly told the Free Beacon. "We should be giving local control to our schools and allow our parents to have a say."
Arizona legislators took opposite measures, enacting a law that bans sex education from grades K-4. Arizona state representative Gail Griffin (R.) said the state house felt the need to take action on the issue because local school boards were not effectively representing the views of parents.
"It's a pushback by the parents—teachers are not babysitters," Griffin told the Free Beacon. "This is a statewide concern. Parents from all parts of Arizona are concerned, so we addressed the issue."
SIECUS, in the updated guidelines, details characteristics for what qualifies a curriculum as an approved Comprehensive Sexuality Education program. Using this description, the Institute for Research & Evaluation conducted a study that found these 103 Comprehensive Sexuality Education programs—60 of which are in the United States—have an 87 percent failure rate. The study found evidence of positive outcomes for 6 programs and negative outcomes for 16 programs.
Janeece Vanwinkle homeschools her six children in Nebraska and said she has noticed an uptick in inquiries from other parents, who are outraged by the proposed curriculum.
"This will permeate our whole society," Vanwinkle told the Free Beacon. "Our children won't be safe at the library or park. Nobody's children will be safe."
Jacob Adams contributed to this report.