The tactics being against parents – and how to fight back!
How to counter the tactics by Planned Parenthood and their allies against parents who oppose the introduction of “sex-ed” and LGBT programs in their schools.
Their systematic tactics to deceive, marginalize, confuse, and overwhelm parents.
Part 2 of 2
June 15, 2018
Below are the sections from the article on tactics for school sex-ed proponents, “Managing Controversy in Pressure Cooker Situations” by Advocates for Youth – along with our commentaries on counter-strategies for parents to use.
Advocates for Youth is a national group that acts as Planned Parenthood’s hardcore organizing arm in local school districts across the country.
This article, written in 2008 and still in use, outlines tactics and strategies for introducing sex-ed (including LGBT programs) into a school system -- and defeating parents who oppose the programs.
Managing controversy in the schools
Most teen pregnancy prevention organizations, sex education teachers, and reproductive health advocates face controversy and conflict at some point in time. During such controversy, we and our organizations may be closely scrutinized and questioned, put on the defensive, challenged, or attacked. To address conflict effectively, we need to anticipate and strategize. This handout identifies some common ‘pressure cooker situations’ and offers suggestions from the field on how to approach them.
Counter-tactics for parents:
Understand that these are dishonest and malicious people. That document is all about subverting the legitimate concerns of parents. They acknowledge among themselves that they know that their material is so radical and offensive that they will likely be strongly challenged. No other course of study in a school would come with that fear by the proponents. This also shows that they really don’t care about the feelings of the parents or the effect on the children.
The first thing that parents must do is keep this in mind at all times!
Note also the dishonesty of how they package this. They work under the cover of “pregnancy prevention,” “health,” and similar positive-sounding terms, which are quite misleading. For example, “reproductive health advocates” includes pro-abortion activists – which is not healthy at all.
Pressure Cooker #1: The Public Hearing
Our community coalition is trying to get an evaluated sex education curriculum approved for use with tenth graders in local public high schools. We have tried to avoid a public hearing because we know that such meetings are usually unproductive. They tend to draw people on the extremes, heighten emotions, and end in deadlock.
Despite our attempts to keep a low profile by working ‘under the radar’ with the curriculum committee, a small and vocal group of parents actively opposes our efforts. We now realize that a public hearing is inevitable. What steps can we take to ensure that the school board and community members hear our position? We can:
- Meet with representatives of the school board prior to the hearing and ask that the school board take the following measures to ensure an effective meeting:
- Schedule a 90 minute hearing (Otherwise, the debate could go on for days!);
- Have security available;
- Ask speakers to sign a roster;
- Allow only persons to speak who live in the county and/or who have children in the public school system;
- Give each speaker a maximum of two to three minutes, a time limit established before the hearing;
- Allow each speaker only one opportunity to speak;
- Keep a stop watch and stick to the designated time.
- Ask influential, supportive people in the community (such as physicians, ministers, and PTA officers) to speak on behalf of the issue;
- Encourage supporters to arrive early and to fill the front rows;
- Ask articulate young people to speak about students’ needs;
- Prepare press kits and develop sound bytes for the media.
Counter-tactics for parents:
Again, they admit that this is being done “under the radar” because they know that parents will be outraged.
Note that they want to rig the rules of the hearing in order to stifle community input and intimidate parents who come to speak. If this were an honest debate, they wouldn’t need to try to control the hearing.
Parents must watch closely to see when a public hearing is scheduled and prepare for it. They should contact the Chairman of the School Board (or other prominent member) personally beforehand and insist that NONE of the normal rules for public hearings are changed (no artificial time limit for the hearing, no change in the length of each person’s speaking time, no change in who is allowed speak, etc,).
Tell the Board member(s) beforehand in no uncertain terms: (1) The push for this curriculum is being organized by outside sex-ed special interests. (2) Much of the curriculum itself comes from outside special interests. (3) Parents do not want public input to be stifled. If the hearing goes all night, so be it, but it must be done by normal rules.
At the hearing, when the activists trot out their student speakers and prominent community members, keep pointing out that this is a well-organized, well funded “dog and pony” show by outside special interests, meant to subvert parents – and it’s full of lies and half-truths. Counter their “happy talk” by describing and quoting from the radical parts of the curriculum.
It’s a good idea to insist publicly that the opposition reveal all the groups they’ve been in contact with, and exactly where the curriculum originally came from.
Don’t be intimidated by claims that the curriculum proponents are “supported” by the CDC. That agency has been subverted by radical sexual philosophies, whether regarding abortion, homosexuality, or “gender identity.” It is not an honest broker.
Pressure Cooker #2: Requests to Consider Alternative Material
A health teacher in a local public high school recently contacted us for help. He explained that he is responsible for teaching family life education for 10th and 12th grade students. He teaches a science-based, evaluated curriculum that was approved several years ago after a lengthy review process. Recently, a group of parents sent him a new curriculum, with a letter firmly requesting that he introduce the material in the upcoming semester. The curriculum has not yet been evaluated. To help him respond in an effective manner, we give him the following advice:
- Accept the materials graciously. Contact the parents to let them know that you will review the materials over the next two weeks. Then, they can follow up with you during a specified period of time.
- Describe why the current curriculum was selected and explain the school’s process for accepting new material. Explain that new material must meet specific criteria and competencies and must be approved by an advisory committee.
- If the group continues to press, ask one representative to meet with you in person. Explore with that person the parts of the curriculum that are acceptable. Then talk about unacceptable or questionable material.
- If the group still continues to press, take the request to the curriculum advisory committee along with your own research and findings regarding it.
Counter-tactics for parents:
We think it’s a terrible idea for parents to offer “alternative material.” The other side will ultimately find a way to keep it out. (E.g., It needs to “meet specific criteria” which they determine.) But in the meantime, they will often use it to get parents to compromise and not be “confrontational.” Once that happens, the other side will quietly slip in everything they wanted. We’ve seen that over and over.
Instead, parents should insist that the whole project be scrapped. That should be the final position of the parents. Reasons: (1) Parents have seen no evidence in THIS school system that there is a teen pregnancy crisis, high rate of STDs, or children desperately needing LGBT indoctrination that counters their parents’ religious values. (2) The process was done using deceptive and dishonest tactics in cooperation with radical special-interest groups, using a “health advisory committee” that is controlled by a group of sex-ed proponents. (3) What parents have seen so far is grossly inappropriate and objectionable.
Parents must challenge their absurd claim that only the sex-ed proponents’ materials are “science-based.” The course materials invariably come from radical special-interest groups, and that should be stated. Bring up the most outrageous parts of the curriculum as evidence that it’s about ideology, not science.
Parents can also challenge their supposed “scientific” findings with reliable studies on our side. (Sources: Medical Inst for Sexual Health, WeAscend.org, SexEdReport.org, American College of Pediatricians, MiriamGrossmanMD.com, MassResistance’s Health Hazards of Homosexuality, etc.)
Also keep in mind that “family life education” is really about undermining the family!
To bolster their position that the whole process is fraudulent, they could consider holding a community forum with speakers from the pro-family health/research organizations mentioned above.
Challenge who gets to define acceptable or “appropriate” material. Some material may be accurate scientifically but absolutely inappropriate and unhealthy (e.g., “If participating in anal intercourse, condoms and lubricants may help prevent HIV.”).
Pressure Cooker #3: The Difficult Board Member
Most members of the board of our teen pregnancy prevention organizations clearly support the organization’s governance, philosophy, mission, fund-raising efforts, and strategic direction. However, one member consistently challenges decisions and frequently undermines the work of individuals and committees. As the new president of the board, I learned from other board members that this member threatened in the past to ‘go public’ with his concerns. I realize that I have inherited a ‘pressure cooker’ situation that I must address. What can I do?
- Establish rules for the board and its committee. Rules should spell out:
- Who can speak on behalf of the group;
- How members should offer input and participate in dialogue;
- The use of the democratic process and majority vote
- The use of anonymous voting procedures when the group is deadlocked.
- Establish operating policies for rotation and replacement of members.
- Screen new candidates for the board to ensure they will: be representative of the community; participate in constructive dialogue; and respect the democratic process.
- On controversial issues, talk with members individually to make sure you have the votes you need before you call the question. Build support among your allies on the board. Be sure that you don’t go out on a limb by yourself
Counter-tactics for parents:
This “problem” shows that the radical nature of the program and deceptive, dishonest tactics being used are often even too distasteful for members of their own inner circle. The fact that this happens so frequently that it needs a special section in their article is very revealing.
Note that the possible threat that one of their insiders might “go public” with concerns about what the group is actually doing is something that causes them particular anguish.
This is a phenomenon that parents MUST take advantage of. As much as possible, parents should engage with members of the opposition – at breaks during school board meetings, in school, etc. – and remind them of the dishonest nature of their whole project, the damage they are likely doing to innocent children, and that they should be helping parents not hurting them.
If parents ever sense a member of the opposition weakening, do everything to encourage him to do the right thing and expose what’s “behind the curtain.”
Pressure Cooker #4: The Media
Our community coalition is making a concerted effort to build public support for science-based prevention efforts in the community. We have seen professional colleagues sometimes misrepresented and misquoted in local television interviews and newspaper articles. Rather than simply reacting to community controversy when it arises, we know that we are more likely to be successful if we are proactive. We decide to develop a public relations plan and approach the media strategically. Where do we start? We:
- Anticipate when reporters will call by monitoring their interests, beats, and concerns.
- Train spokespersons and decide who will best handle the media in a given situation.
- Avoid putting teachers in the position of having to speak on behalf of a curriculum.
- Prepare to address various controversial topics. We develop a set of note cards with sound bytes. We practice our response.
- Ask supporters to be visible and vocal at public hearings.
- Develop good working relationships with local media representatives. We talk with them often, not only for interviews but to offer background and assistance with research.
- Respect reporters’ deadlines and are careful to give them accurate quotes and verifiable facts.
- Use various strategies to educate the media about our key issues. We provide press packets, hold press events, and request individual interviews, as appropriate.
- We talk to reporters when we have not been asked to respond to misrepresentations by the opposition. At the same time, we honor reporters’ responsibility to cover both sides of the issue.
Counter-tactics for parents:
Since most parents are understandably ignorant of how to deal with the press – and the Left is often quite experienced at it – this is very important.
Most of the media these days are hopelessly biased and left-wing. However, it is possible to avoid being completely slammed. Here are some counter-tactics:
- Have one or two people designated to deal with the press.
- News media is basically sound bites. That is, short one- or two-sentence answers. It’s best if they are aggressive and clear. For every likely question or topic, write up a “sound bite” answer.
- Have a press kit that you can hand or email a reporter or email. It should be just a few pages, very clear, and succinct. If it’s long and involved, it won’t get read or used. You can have more detail on a website. (Also have a “contact” email to gain supporters.)
- When a reporter calls you, Google him and read similar articles he has written. Note if he is extremely biased on this issue.
- Tell the reporter you know that the opposition is used to working the press, and you’re all just parents. The opposition and its curriculum is connected powerful national groups. Nevertheless, say that you expect that the reporter will be unbiased and give you at least equal time. If the other side gets to rebut our points, then we should get to rebut their points.
- If it’s a newspaper, website, or magazine reporter, have the reporter email you the questions for you to answer – NOT ask you over the phone. They will only use a few sentences, so be succinct.
- If it’s a TV or radio reporter, remember they will only use about 1 minute of anything you say, so be very careful.
- Make sure that anyone who hears your sound bites will hate the sex-ed program! Anticipate their arguments and attack them, particularly their “science-based” contention and their other arguments. Describe the horrible parts of the curriculum.
- Get the reporter’s phone number and email. If the news piece turns out bad, contact him immediately and tell him why it’s bad. This is important. Also, Ask for a follow-up piece with corrections. If he refuses, write a letter to the editor (or news director) with the corrections and additional information if necessary.
In general, be aware of various ways to use and influence the media:
- At public hearings, etc., have all your people wear distinct stickers, and be vocal. This way the press (and everyone else) will know you have supporters there.
- Write letters for the local newspaper(s) and try to get a prominent op-ed published in each one.
- Try to get a local radio talk show to invite your group on (preferably at drive time).
Pressure Cooker #5: The Powerful Policy Maker
Our community teen pregnancy prevention coalition focuses primarily on consumer education, professional training, and program development rather than on advocacy and policy work. Yet, we know that elected officials play a powerful role in supporting or opposing state and local teen pregnancy prevention efforts. We have seen politicians change laws regarding young people’s access to health services. We have seen them enact new laws that undermine minors’ rights. We have watched our school board vote for a so-called ‘family life education’ curriculum that provides inaccurate information and uses fear to discourage sexual risk behaviors. We have watched our governor slash prevention funding and/or veto a bill that would fund integrated programs.
Now, we realize that we will be more effective if we combine our current efforts with advocacy. We are ready to be vocal advocates for young people. How can we work within the political process to make a difference? We can:
- Determine what types of policies will help reduce teen pregnancy in our state and community. For example, what types of laws, policies, and regulations are needed to ensure that teens have complete and accurate information about their sexual health? Have access to confidential and affordable reproductive health services? Have the opportunity to participate in youth development opportunities from tutoring, to after-school programs, to job training?
- Determine which decision-making bodies or elected officials are responsible for these policies.
- Mount a carefully constructed campaign to educate policy makers, media and the public about the importance of comprehensive sex education and unrestricted access to health care. Educating elected officials before there is controversy is the best way to ensure their support when controversy arises.
- Identify knowledgeable people who are committed to science-based programs, including comprehensive sex education. Encourage them to run for the school board, county or city commission, and state legislature.
- Recruit people to our coalition who have access to these elected officials.
- Get involved as private citizens in campaigns by making contributions; working actively in the campaigns; and speaking out on the priority issues.
Counter-tactics for parents:
Parents should counter this by meeting with politicians or their staff and continuously attacking other side’s sex-ed programs, their bogus claims and statements, their dishonest tactics, and their basic beliefs.
For example: Minors don’t have sexual “rights” except as guided and determined by parents (not schools). This is really a parents’ rights issue, not children’s rights. Minors should certainly not have any rights to “confidential” health care (not approved by parents) which could include contraceptives, abortion clinic referrals, STD testing (including HIV testing), etc. Given the serious, uncurable STDs afflicting young people today, parents certainly should know what care their child is accessing.
They may accuse you of being “fear-based.” That’s fine; there’s nothing wrong with instilling fear in children. Their brains are not fully mature until their early to mid-20s, so this is an appropriate method for promoting abstinence in light of the serious consequences of early sexual activity.
If parents are very aggressive in this, it will pay dividends.
Pressure Cooker #6: Groups Opposed to Science Based Approaches and Programs and to Comprehensive Sex Education
In recent years, a small, yet vocal group of advocates has grown to be a significant force in our community. This group opposes comprehensive sex education in schools. It also opposes confidential reproductive health services for teens. The group is often visible in the media and often misrepresents our positions and goals. We must address the group and the controversy head on. Where do we start? We can:
- Learn about the opposition.
- Get on the group’s mailing list so we can monitor its activities and claims.
- Attend the group’s meetings so we will know who participates and what issues they represent.
- Develop a working relationship with at least one leader from the group.
- Do our homework.
- Offer accurate information and valid points when rebutting opposition arguments, whether in print or at public meetings.
- Present credible research and data on youth’s risk behaviors; community polls and surveys; and program evaluations.
- Have a strategy plan to help us deal with potential controversy.
- Develop and maintain a readily available group of spokespeople and supporters.
- Create a telephone tree so we can mobilize our supporters quickly.
- Have a small committee that can troubleshoot in crisis situations and respond on behalf of our supporters.
- Avoid public confrontations.
- Work together to support our issues.
- Insist on negotiating and identifying common interests. Reach decisions that the majority supports.
- Develop a strategy that helps us to handle personal attacks and to support the one attacked.
Preparation is key to managing controversy. By anticipating our own ‘pressure cooker’ scenarios and developing our own strategic responses, we can be effective in handling these difficult situations!
Counter-tactics for parents:
Do NOT avoid public confrontations – encourage them! The other side wants to avoid that because they know they’re on shaky ground.
They will attack parents on social media, often quite viciously. Please do not let that intimidate you. Attack them back.
Get on their mailing lists and infiltrate their groups as much as possible.
Do some research on the spokesmen on their side, and the leaders pushing their program, and school board members. Expose their radical connections and history. Challenge them personally: Ask them what right they have to pollute yours and others’ children’s minds with their obscene materials while undermining parents’ moral teaching.
Since the “health curriculum committee” is a public group, insist on getting as much information and material from them as possible, including all their connections to outside group and also their plans for attacking parents. If necessary, file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Do not let them hold back anything.
Some important parting thoughts: What you should know about School Boards
Ultimately, if parents are unsuccessful at derailing the “health education committee” project, then the School Board will vote on it – either in stages or all at once. So you need to know what you’re up against.
People tend to be very naive about School Boards. Let’s be honest here. It’s a lot worse than most parents realize.
First, School Boards tend to be made up of either liberal activists, political opportunists, or weak-willed conservatives. They’re generally ordinary people who are now suddenly very important. They all like getting their egos stroked by other “important” people. They want to “fit in” with the other members. As a result, just about all of them will eventually sell out, or at least be silent, on any given issue no matter how radical. That’s one reason our schools are in such bad shape.
Second, School Board members, even more than other elected officials, quickly identify with the bureaucrats and special interests they deal with and get disconnected from the people. They tend to see the parents as an annoyance and a distraction. Anyone who’s ever come to testify at his local School Board meeting sees that first-hand. No matter what you talk about, they just look at you and don’t react at all.
And third, liberal school board members (like liberals in general) tend to have a gut-level hatred for conservative parents and will do things to you (or completely ignore you) just to spite you.
Obviously there are exceptions to this, especially among those who are newly elected to a School Board who are concerned and are willing to speak out.
But it’s difficult for even “good” School Board members to do the right thing without a lot of support. Proponents of sex-ed programs (including other Board members) want to silence anyone with any concerns about the curriculum. They hope to screen out any candidates for office who don’t agree with the radical program. If there is a questioning Board member, they will marginalize him and vilify him before the press and community. They will say he doesn’t speak for the group. It is very intimidating.
For all these reasons, it is usually difficult for parents to break through the insider group of most School Boards and have any positive effect.
So what can parents do?
We’ll be blunt. In most situations, the only way that School Board members do the right thing (as opposed to appeasing various leftists) is constant and unrelenting pressure.
Don’t be afraid to target individual Board members in your press statements or on your website. Develop profiles which include blunt statements like: “Voted for anal sex lessons for middle-school students.” Work on exposing and wearing them down -- in the media, at hearings, with signs at streetcorners, at meetings you can schedule with individual members, and of course at election time.
Be creative! Innocent children are at stake. We have seen amazing things happen when parents were unafraid and didn’t give up. It won’t necessarily happen immediately, but it’s worth the effort.