The policy in the school district in East Lansing, Mich., allows parents to attend such classes, so Dreger took a seat in the corner and brought out her laptop. And then she began to tweet.
I can't stand this. They're teaching "abstinence stories" that worked and non-abstinence" stories that "led to consequences."— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) April 15, 2015
When her son brought up the research he’d printed out, a visiting sex ed presenter dismissed it, Dreger wrote. “You can look up anything on the Internet,” she told him.
The class went on.
The whole lesson here is "sex is part of a terrible lifestyle. Drugs, unemployment, failure to finish school -- sex is part of the disaster"— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) April 15, 2015
"You'll find a good girl. If you find one that says 'no,' that's the one you want." HE ACTUALLY JUST SAID THAT.— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) April 15, 2015
Now the woman is up. "Sometimes condoms fail."— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) April 15, 2015
"We are going to roll this dice 8 times. Every time your number comes up, in pretend your condom failed and you get a paper baby." JESUS!!!— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) April 15, 2015
Paper babies are being handed out to EVERYONE. They have ALL HAD CONDOM FAILURE AND THE WHOLE CLASS IS PREGNANT.— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) April 15, 2015
Dreger continued to tweet for the rest of the hour-long session (her full account is compiled here), and during her argument with the guest teacher when the class was over. By the time she left the classroom, everyone at the “locker commons” was talking about what had happened, Dreger’s son said. So was much of the country — Dreger’s tweets had gone viral.
Colby Fletcher, the principal at East Lansing High School, criticized Dreger’s behavior in a statement to the Lansing State Journal.
“I support the appropriate expression of a plurality of viewpoints; however, I am very concerned by the utter lack of civility I see conveyed in the tweets and the behavior the tweeter admits to exhibiting in the classroom. This is not representative of the conduct we expect to see adults model for our students.”
He emphasized that the school’s sex-ed program is abstinence-based, not abstinence-only. “Abstinence-based instruction teaches that abstinence is the only way to be completely safe,” Fletcher said in the statement, according to the Lansing State Journal, “but the curriculum also reviews contraception choices. This parent attended on a day where abstinence was being taught.”
Michigan Public Schools policy requires sex-ed programs to “discuss the benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage and the benefits of ceasing sexual activity if the pupil is currently sexually active.” Information on contraception is not mentioned among required components of the curriculum, although the policy states that districts are not prohibited from discussing condoms within their program.
The abstinence class taught at Dreger’s school, called Sexually Mature Aware Responsible Teens (SMART), is provided by an independent contractor for the school, Fletcher said.
“We are trying to give them an option,” Lori Bolan, who administrates the program, told the Lansing State Journal. “We’re just one portion of what the school provides.”
But in her essay, Dreger said that the program was “terror-based” if not necessarily abstinence-only.
“Here’s what these visiting ‘educators’ were telling those kids: Condoms fail. They fail so often, they are pointless. There is no birth control except condoms. So if you have sex, you will end up with a pregnancy, and there is no abortion — you have to have that baby. And you will be shamed,” she wrote.
For his part, Dreger’s son dug up an analysis of several abstinence education studies in the British Medical Journal. According to the essay, he planned to distribute them in class the next day.
The mate: "Do not expect the adults to be rational. They have reason not to be."— Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) April 15, 2015
The kid: "I'm doing this for the kids in my class."