By JOHN FORTMEYER
About 90 parents and community members deeply troubled by the presence of Planned Parenthood in Salem-Keizer schools turned out in force at a school board meeting last month, and a similar effort is being organized for early this month before the Portland School Board.
In both cities, the opponents are primarily concerned Christians who see Planned Parenthood and its sex education program for teens as running fully counter to their values and entirely inappropriate for a school setting.
“Please educate yourself on their philosophy of exposing children to unbelievably lewd condict at a very early age,” said Bill Steinmetz, asking the Salem-Keizer board to review what he said was highly objectional content for youth on the Planned Parenthood web site. He was one of about 18 community members who spoke to the board during an open comment time at the board’s Nov. 13 meeting.
“I don’t get it,” said Eric Poynter, another community member, “I am absolutely aghast. This has got to stop.”
Poynter said the liberal views on sex that Planned Parenthood promotes to young people make the agency entirely wrong to teach sex education. “It would be like (the late actor and gun rights proponent) Charlton Heston teaching on gun control, or Karl Marx teaching on the virtues of capitalism” said Poynter.
One grandmother read sexually graphic information for teens from the Planned Parenthood website until a board member asked her to stop. A local physician claimed Planned Parenthood provides inaccurate medical information.
The show of concern in Salem-Keizer was organized by Doug Muravez, parent of two students at North Salem High School. A parishioner at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Salem, Muravez had filed an objection with the school district over the Teen Outreach program offered at North Salem and McKay high schools by Planned Parenthood staff under a federal grant. He said Planned Parenthood works against the values he and his wife are trying to instill in their children and undermines their parental authority.
After the school district announced in August that it would stick with the teen class despite Muravez’s objections, he and other members of his parish met and started sharing their concerns with other local churches. They have since developed a web site, salemschoolwatch.com, and say they are ready for a sustained effort to persuade Salem-Keizer to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood.
Since Muravez began his efforts earlier this year, Planned Parenthood has defended to area media its role in providing the teen program. Liz Delapoer of Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette told Portland’s KATU Channel 2 last summer that her agency has long been a “trusted provider” of sex education throughout Oregon.
In the meantime, Bill Diss, a teacher at Benson High School in Portland who has — away from his job — organized protests of Planned Parenthood’s abortion services in the city under the title Precious Children of Portland, is asking for a solid turnout of concerned Rose City residents at their school board meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at 501 N. Dixon St.
Diss said Planned Parenthood has introduced the teen program in Portland schools as well as Salem, and that his superiors told him he must allow it in his classroom even though he asked to be excused from assisting because of his very strong religious objections. For more information, go to pdx4life.org or phone 503-334-6183.