PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A handful of parents are fuming over a sex ed course being taught in their children’s school and the religious group that's teaching it.
Mona Mangat, the mom of an 8th grader at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, says she and other parents are “angry about this, upset about this and trying to figure out how this is possible.”
Mangat knew one thing for sure: Her daughter would opt out of a sex ed course being taught Thursday by the Christian faith-based group More2Life.
“It’s shocking when you find out that faith-based groups are providing this information in schools. I had no idea. I thought that was not allowed in the United States, but I guess I was wrong," she explained.
Mangat worries the curriculum is biased especially since the group is linked to a pro-life crisis pregnancy center in Largo called New Life Solutions. The More2Life group focuses on abstinence in their presentation to local schools.
In one presentation they told students, “Sex is like fire. It's safe in its proper context like a committed marriage, just like it's safe in a fireplace.”
In another, while speaking about the high rate of STDs, a leader told students, "Have you ever played duck, duck, goose? Now it's like duck, duck, chlamydia."
We took parent’s concerns straight to Jason Dorr, the director of More2Life, who says their program does not discuss religion.
"Our message is completely a health message,” Dorr explained.
Dorr adds, in line with Florida rules, they encourage abstaining from sex before marriage. The organization has spent 19 years talking to students about the consequences of STDs and teen pregnancy.
“We always make this clear: We are not here to tell you what to do. This is an option for your life and we want to present that to you so you can make your own choices," Dorr added. “We are teaching them to have a healthy life and reach their goals without the consequences that can affect their future, so it's adding to what they're already learning at home.”
Dorr also says 95% of teachers give them high ratings and highly recommend their program to other classrooms.
Mangat is fighting to get the program out of schools and swapped out for one that focuses purely on facts.
“The choice to have sex is intensely personal. You have to have complete information to make that decision," Mangat added.
The Pinellas County School district says students are able to opt out of the presentations. They are also currently reviewing the More2Life content to make sure it’s appropriate.
The More2Life presentation has been used in several Pinellas County Schools including:
- Azalea Middle
- Bay Point Middle
- Boca Ciega High
- Carwise Middle
- Clearwater Fundamental
- Clearwater High
- Coachman Fundamental
- Countryside High
- Dixie Hollins High
- Dunedin High
- Dunedin Middle
- East Lake High
- Fitzgerald Middle
- John Hopkins Middle
- Kennedy Middle
- Lakewood High
- Largo High
- Largo Middle
- Lealman Intermediate
- Madeira Beach Middle
- North Pinellas Secondary
- Northeast High
- Oak Grove Middle
- Osceola High
- Palm Harbor Middle
- Pinellas Park Middle
- Pinellas Prep Academy
- Riviera Middle
- Safety Harbor Middle
- Seminole Middle
- Southside Fundamental
- Tarpon High
- Tarpon Springs Middle
- Thurgood Marshall Fundamental
- Tyrone Middle