The Freedom From Religion Foundation strongly protests a faith-based organization being used at numerous school districts in Missouri for teaching abstinence-only sexual education.
FFRF sent out a flurry of letters on Friday, April 7, to 15 public and charter school districts objecting to school-sponsored sex education being conducted by Thrive St. Louis. FFRF was informed of the violation by local members.
Thrive's medical services and its curriculum work to advance religion and an anti-abortion viewpoint at the expense of scientific accuracy. Its "Best Choice" sex education curriculum only promotes abstinence, offering little information other than shame and risks that await sexually active students. More useless material can be found at Thrive's website, which offers misleading and false information about contraception and abortion. The group advertises general-purpose medical clinics for pregnant women, but only offers information and assistance that discourages women from obtaining abortions or using birth control.
Thrive requires that its employees "be committed Christian[s] who demonstrate a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." Clearly the aim of the organization is to win over Christian converts to advance its spiritual mission. Missouri public schools must not allow this anti-science evangelism into secular classrooms.
"It is inappropriate for a public school to allow an organization widely reputed for pushing a religious agenda to speak to a captive student audience, especially when coupled with inaccurate and potentially dangerous medical advice," wrote FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne in a letter sent to the Parkway School District.
The classes may violate federal court decisions against the promotion of religion in public schools. Thrive's curriculum also may not comply with state law that require Missouri sex education courses must be medically and factually accurate, and teach students the latest information regarding side effects and health benefits of all forms of contraception.
"It is wildly irresponsible for these public schools to allow members of a faith-based anti-abortion ministry access to other people's children to further its religious agenda," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "This infiltration of church dogma into Missouri classrooms senselessly endangers the health of students exposed to it and must stop."
FFRF urges public school districts that wish to use sex education instructors or curriculum designers who are not district employees to choose medical professionals for the task.
The Freedom From Religious Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization that works to protect the constitutional separation of church and state. It represents more than 27,000 nonreligious members across the country, including 343 members in Missouri.