Guest Post by Becky Behrends, M.D. and Vice President of Research for Michigan Citizens for Election Integrity (

The battle lines have been drawn! Michigan parents are concerned about the hyper-sexualization of their children against the state-controlled education bureaucracy.

The Great Schools Initiative (GSI) is leading the charge with what is known as opt-out from rogue sex education in schools. GST is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that was created to restore parental control over what their children are being taught in schools, among other goals.

What is “rogue” sex education?

First of all, Michigan statutory law is very clear that sex education is to be confined to approved sex-ed classes with an approved curriculum by a trained sex-ed educator. The opinion by then-Attorney General Frank Kelley in 1981 said that “parents have a right to review the contents of any course in which family planning or reproductive health are discussed before they exercise their right to have their child excused from the class. School authorities may not void the effect of this law by including ANY sex education instruction in a required class. This is EXPRESSLY prohibited by law.” (1976 PA 451, Sec. 1507-3).
Furthermore, Michigan law does not mandate that sex education courses even have to be taught or required for graduation.

Rogue sex education is when teachers in classes other than the approved sex education class hold discussions or teach regarding sensual topics, promote the use of pronouns inconsistent with biology, display and distribute LGBTQ flags, books, and materials, furnish clothing for cross-dressing, or discuss gender ideology. It involves informal discussion and chats about sexuality on the part of teachers who are not certified to teach sex-ed and which is outside the confines and structure of an approved sex-ed class.

In other words, required classes, such as social studies, literature, and math classes, should not be in the business of infusing gender or sexual orientation material into their curriculum. It is against the law!!!

Nathan Pawl, one of the co-founders of GSI, responded to the notion that gay pride and transgender flags on display in teacher’s classrooms are acceptable to help “stimulate discussion and create safe and inclusive spaces” with the following:

“Nobody can display a Playboy flag in the classroom and claim it is a benign symbol and conversation starter. Flags are a tool that represents something, and that begs questions.”

On the subject of symbols such as flags conveying messages, it is an issue in the recent Jack Phillip’s case. Phillips was the Colorado cake baker who won his case at the US Supreme Court in 2018 after he declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on the grounds of a first amendment violation of his religious beliefs. He was sued again in 2021, this time by a transgender individual who wanted Phillips to make a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside. The Colorado Court of Appeals recently ruled against Phillips, who is appealing the case.

Baker Jack Phillips poses in his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, C0. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The court said that a pink cake with blue frosting does not have any inherent meaning and that the act of selling a cake is not speech and, thus, is not protected under the first amendment. Funny that the ruling was considered a victory for the “greater LGBTQ community.” Why, if the cake itself didn’t mean anything? Most people understand that blue represents male and pink represents female. Especially if you attend a baby shower. Who are they kidding? The colors of the cake sent a loud message!

And so do LGBTQ and transgender flags and symbols in classrooms.

As the Iranian proverb says:

“You cannot ride a camel furtively.”

The intent is out there for anyone to see as obvious attempts at the normalization of certain sexual behaviors and lifestyles and the indoctrination of children.

As Monica Yatooma, also one of the co-founders of GSI wisely stated:

“Michigan law solidifies the role of the family, especially parents, and allows them to decide what pace to set for their children with regard to learning about human sexuality….A parent always knows the child best.”

Monica Yatooma

Michigan law also mandates the formation of sex education advisory boards (SEAB) if a school district desires to create or change a sex-ed program. These boards are to include pupils, parents, educators, local clergy, and community health professionals. Parents need to check to see if their local school districts have a SEAB and if it is doing what the law requires.

GSI collaborated with the Thomas More Society to create an Opt-Out Form. The Thomas More Society is a national, non-profit public interest law firm that exists to provide pro bono legal services to individuals or groups fighting to restore respect in law for life, family, religious liberty, and election integrity.

The Great Schools Initiative notes on its website:

“It is a violation of privacy and a safety issue when teachers, counselors, or administrators have conversations or solicit private information from children through polls, quizzes, and other communications about human sexuality. State law requires that these practices are contained for sex-ed classes only. This would include promotion of any and all sexual ideologies. Students’ private information is protected by both state law and FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act). These laws keep all students safe. No student should be “outed” in school.”

Nowhere in the state law does it require that a parent must use a school’s form. In fact, the law clearly states that a school must accept a parent’s written opt-out!

There is a growing number of parents and school districts across Michigan who are now utilizing the GSI Opt-Out Form, which can be accessed on the GSI website.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has now jumped into the battle. They voted along party lines recently to ask local school boards to use their existing opt-out forms if parents want to exclude their children from sex education. They recommend that local school districts reject any outside opt-out forms as “invalid, irrelevant, and inconsequential.”

They also stated that it is up to local schools and districts to decide how to respond to the GSI opt-out campaign. Legal risk thus is transferred to local school districts. The State Board of Education refuses to address the “rogue” nature of what is going on in required classes outside of the established sex-ed classes. The GSI opt-out form was created to cover times and situations where sex education or discussion is being taught outside of the regular sex-ed classes. In no way does this initiative deny the right or existence of LGBTQ students in schools. It simply protects the rights of parents over their children.

The GSI Opt-Out form includes rogue discussions about such topics as gender identity, gender expression, gender assignment, sexual identities, sexual expression, sexual orientation, gender fluidity, transitioning, and explicit sexual activity or behavior. It also includes opt-out from gender-neutral bathrooms and locker rooms. In addition, opt-out from polls and surveys used to indoctrinate kids on sexual identity and questions prying into the family lives of students.

Pamela Pugh, President of the Michigan State Board of Education, said that GSI is confusing parents, overwhelming school districts with a barrage of opt-out forms, and threatening lawsuits to intimidate teachers. They are advancing a “Don’t Say Gay” discriminatory agenda, according to her.

President of the Michigan State Board of Education Pamela Pugh

But many parents are concerned that the position of the state school board goes against their rights. Government, taxpayer-funded schools should not be deciding what parents are allowed to do or not do.

It is not the intent of GSI or the Thomas More Society to create an adversarial situation with educators. They want to cooperate with school boards, administrators, and teachers. It is their hope that these issues can be resolved through parental complaint processes without litigation. But, litigation is on the table if the education establishment resists.

Great Schools Initiative is an approach long overdue. President Pugh of the Michigan State BOE asserts that “Their (GSI) whole campaign is based on the notion that the mere mention or recognition of LGBTQ people or students is a form of sex education.”

Pugh has it wrong.

GSI is an attempt to stop the “campaign” of LGBTQ indoctrinators.

Young children and youth are vulnerable.

Corporations spend millions of dollars to buy ad slots during the Super Bowl. They know that even 60 seconds of media buying can influence the pocketbooks of adults. Day after day of exposure to ideas, philosophies, or symbols that embrace or represent sexual issues surely will influence the minds and behavior of children and is a form of “education.” Anyone who denies this has no business educating children.

The deceit on the part of rogue sex education promoters and endorsers has to end, or they will suffer the wrath of angry parents state and nationwide. It’s about time. Do whatever you want as adults but leave our children alone!

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